The New York Rangers have been the talk of the NHL this week in terms of trade possibilities.
That spotlight was only enhanced on Thursday with the letter sent out to fans about the team’s future, followed by the media availability with Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather.
It’s not a surprise to think that the general manager will deal away players on expiring contracts like Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, but the allusion seems to be there that Ryan McDonagh or others with term could also be on the move in order to retool the roster moving forward.
“If Ryan McDonagh gets traded, we’re going to look at the deal and we’re going to say, ‘Oh, that’s why.’” indicated NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman during a Friday morning radio hit on Toronto’s Sportsnet 590. “I think they’re willing to listen on McDonagh, but I think they believe that if they do it, the price has to be heavy. So I think that that might give us a better explanation on why they decide to do it.
“But the one thing that’s kind of out there, and we’ve talked about it a little bit, is if they trade Nash or they trade Grabner… McDonagh, if he’s gone he’s gone for another year-and-a-half because he’s got another year under contract. But the question is, is Nash going to go and come back. Is Grabner going to go and come back.
“And one of the subplots of the Olympics – last year Ilya Kovalchuk, you had to go through New Jersey if you wanted to come back. You had to make the deal with him, and he went back overseas. This year he’s an unrestricted free agent. It’s believed his target is the New York area. And if I had to rank them in order, I’d say probably for him Rangers 1, Islanders 2.
“So what happens if they make deals, they get all these pieces, and Nash comes back, and/or Grabner comes back, and say Kovalchuk comes over. Plus, they’re going to have cap room and you know what happens when the Rangers have this situation. Maybe they’re looking at Boston and saying, ‘Hey, if we get some kids and we can add some pieces to it depending on who comes back or if Kovalchuk comes over,’ I wonder if they’re looking at this as a very, very quick reset and seeing if they can give it a shot next year.”
At this point, the suggestion was made to Friedman on 590 that the Rangers would call John Tavares during free agency this summer in that scenario.
“Absolutely,” agreed Friedman. “You know what. I wouldn’t be surprised – if he doesn’t sign with the Islanders, and I’ve said a lot that’s my No. 1 option of what I think he wants to do – if he doesn’t sign with the Islanders, the Devils have a lot of cap room too. Don’t you think both the Rangers and the Devils are going to say, ‘If you don’t want to move, we’re right here.’”
Later Friday morning, Friedman had a radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 and had a chance to share his thoughts specifically on the letter the Rangers sent out to fans.
“I don’t understand why more teams don’t do that. I really don’t. It bought them time,” said Friedman. “Their fans – I was watching Twitter yesterday after they did that. You know how Twitter is. Twitter is not a great indicator of the world. You get a lot of sarcasm. You get a lot of people who are really behind a keyboard. The Rangers fans yesterday – they loved it. They really appreciated it.
“Some of us had been thinking it and we’ve been reporting it and we’ve talked about it on this station. But it’s different when you’ve got some rumor-monger like myself as opposed to the team coming out and saying, ‘Yes, this is what we are going to do.’
“And I think the fans appreciate it. It buys you time. Fans, at the end of the day, what they want is, ‘Are you listening to us. Do we feel that our grievances or our opinion is being heard. Do we feel like we matter.’
“And the Rangers yesterday showed that their fans matter because they gave them a clear indication of what’s going on. And you know what? I think what it does is it buys them time. And those fans yesterday were like, ‘Alright. Okay. I get it.’ And that’s all you can do.
“… I thought it was good.”