The Rangers have shown some promise in the second season of their rebuild, but don’t be surprised if they are big sellers before the NHL’s Feb. 24 trade deadline.
As the team looks to build through its youth around Hart Trophy candidate Artemi Panarin, some veteran or expendable pieces have garnered interest on the trade market in recent days.
Atop the Rangers’ list of potential trade pieces is veteran winger Chris Kreider, who is well on pace to eclipse the 25-goal mark for the third time in four seasons.
The 28-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent by season’s end and the chances he’ll be retained by the Rangers are slim — hence the trade chatter now.
Kreider participated in the All-Star Game over the weekend in St. Louis, replacing Artemi Panarin and taking part in the fastest skater competition, which will only help his exposure.
He is reportedly already the Boston Bruins’ top target this month, according to NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty. Boston has a history of pulling off deals with New York, recently acquiring Rick Nash from the Blueshirts two years ago.
For the time being, Kreider isn’t paying much attention to the rumors swirling around him.
“I’m a Ranger until they tell me that I’m not a Ranger,” he said.
Elsewhere on the roster, young goaltender Alexandar Georgiev has seen his name gain some traction in trade talks.
The team’s decision to call up top goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin left head coach David Quinn with a three-headed goalie monster that also includes Georgiev and Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist that needs juggling every night.
With Shesterkin billed as the next Lundqvist — and with Lundqvist unlikely to waive his no-trade clause — Georgiev becomes the expendable netminder.
In 23 games, he’s 12-10-1 with a .910 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average.
Per the Fourth Period, the San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils have inquired about the Bulgarian, though the latter’s chances of acquiring would be slim.
Don’t expect the Rangers to deal the 23-year-old to a divisional and geographical rival in New Jersey. The Devils are in grave need of goaltending help as they look to get back on the right track following a disastrous first half of the season.