The Rangers’ Stanley Cup window is closing, which means the Blueshirts could be willing to move pieces in order to improve quickly as the post-season approaches. One option could be blueliner Keith Yandle. Meanwhile, Flames winger Jiri Hudler and Sabres winger Jamie McGinn are drawing interest as the trade deadline nears.
The New York Rangers enter the all-star break sitting second in the Metropolitan division and third in the Eastern Conference standings. However, some Rangers followers are grumbling over the club’s inability to dominate the Conference as they once did. Only four points separates the Blueshirts from the New Jersey Devils, who sit just outside the Eastern playoff picture.
Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post recently observed Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turns 34 in March. That means the Blueshirts don’t have a lot of time to take advantage of his greatness before his inevitable decline.
Cyrgalis wonders what GM Jeff Gorton could get for pending UFA defenseman Keith Yandle on the trade market. He also noted the no-movement contracts of struggling blueliners Marc Staal and Dan Girardi hamper Gorton’s cap flexibility.
Larry Brooks also weighed in regarding Yandle’s value as a playoff rental. He speculates the 29-year-old rearguard could spark a bidding war among Western Conference powers like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, along with perhaps the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks, Kings and Sharks could have interest in Yandle, but they’re all squeezed for cap room right now. Even with the Rangers carrying half of his $5.25-million cap hit, their asking price could be too rich for those clubs. The Stars seem a better fit. They have more cap space and could be keen to acquire a rental player who can boost their chances for a deep playoff run.
Forget about Yandle to the Wild, as they’re already deep on the blueline. GM Chuck Fletcher made no secret of his search for a scoring forward, having made an unsuccessful attempt earlier this month to acquire center Ryan Johansen.
HUDLER OUT AT TRADE DEADLINE?
Calgary Flames winger and pending UFA Jiri Hudler hasn’t received much buzz in this year’s trade rumor mill. With the 32-year-old winger’s stats well below last season’s career high of 76 points, he’s been largely overlooked.
That could be about to change, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Flames are getting some calls regarding Hudler. As it seems unlikely they’ll reach the playoffs, McKenzie feels the veteran winger could be shopped by the Feb. 29 deadline.
With the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks pulling away from the Flames in the Pacific Division, their odds of reaching the playoffs are slim. If they fail to gain ground in the standings in a month’s time, Hudler could hit the trade block.
Flames blueliner Kris Russell is also eligible for UFA status this summer. While there’s interest from rival clubs in the 28-year-old shot-blocking specialist, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Flames still hope to re-sign him.
SABRES’ MCGINN DRAWING INTEREST
Of these, McGinn could have the most value. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl observes the 27-year-old right winger is a pleasant surprise for the Sabres since joining the club as part of the trade with Colorado that brought Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo. With 21 points in 50 games, McGinn’s among the Sabres’ leading scorers.
Vogl reports of no contract talks yet between the Sabres and McGinn’s agent. While the winger loves playing in Buffalo, his future with the Sabres remains uncertain. The Sabres could get a second-round pick for McGinn, but with 11 picks in this year’s draft, it might be best to pursue a promising young player.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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