The New York Rangers' recent signing of Bradon Pirri to a one-year, $1.1-million deal gives them 15 forwards under contract for 2016-17, with 13 on one-way deals. That's generating speculation one of them could be dealt before the start of the upcoming season.
Last month, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton shipped center Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in 2018 to the Ottawa Senators for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round selection. With the Pirri signing, NBC Sports' James O'Brien wonders if Gorton might be working on a bigger move. He cites Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman telling the NHL Network the Blueshirts GM “has his hand in a lot of things.”
Gorton still hasn't found a suitable replacement for departed puck-moving defenseman Keith Yandle. Since late-June, there's been talk of the Rangers shipping left winger Rick Nash to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post observes the trade market hasn't changed. He expects Nash and his $7.8-million annual salary-cap hit will still be with the Rangers when training camp opens in mid-September.
Cyrgalis doesn't rule out Gorton making a trade, noting their issues on defense. O'Brien points out the Blueshirts GM isn't under pressure to make a move, but he has sufficient assets at forward to draw upon as trade bait to pursue a defenseman in the near future.
Finding the right trade partner willing to move a quality mobile defenseman is easier said than done.
In late-June, the Blues were listening to offers for Shattenkirk. However, GM Doug Armstrong is reportedly content to keep him and see how the upcoming season unfolds.
Once the Anaheim Ducks re-sign Hampus Lindholm, they'll have eight defensemen under one-way contracts. Cam Fowler is frequently mentioned as a trade option. The Ducks need a scoring left winger, so there might be a fit there for the Rangers.
Should Shattenkirk or Fowler hit the trade block, the Rangers won't be the only club interested in them. The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils could also get into the trade bidding.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning could also become trade targets for the Rangers. The Flyers could try to move Mark Streit or Andrew MacDonald to make room for young blueliners Ivan Provorov and Sam Morin. Once the Lightning re-sign right winger Nikita Kucherov to his big raise, they could consider shopping defenseman Jason Garrison and his $4.6-million cap hit.
Whatever move Gorton makes must also fit within his salary-cap constraints. With $1.4 million in cap space, he cannot afford to take on a high-salaried defenseman without moving out significant dollars in the deal.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.