3 fourth-line options the Rangers could consider ahead of trade deadline

Rangers have options to replace fourth-line
New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) knocks the puck away from Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photos

Tyler Motte is back with the New York Rangers to help improve what has been an inconsistent fourth line. 

That doesn’t mean the Rangers are done improving though. 

With just over a week remaining before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Rangers still have enough resources to make one final push to improve the roster and go “all-in” on a championship run. There are, of course, certain obstacles that stand in New York’s way though. 

General Manager, Chris Drury has done a masterful job of getting great value for rental pieces while keeping the Rangers in a strong state of building through the draft. It’s helped New York reach the point where they could be favored in any matchup that comes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team isn’t fully complete though. 

Jake Leschyshyn, a waiver pickup from Vegas, has yet to make a statement that belongs starting every day. Add in the fact that Jimmy Vesey is a bottom-six player playing on the top line and the team could use some added center depth to help sustain the offense against whoever they face in the future. 

The good news? There are three easy options for New York to make. 

Nick Bjugstad – C, Arizona

Bjugstad is a bigger player that can help the Rangers immediately while providing them with some offensive capabilities in the fourth line. In 57 games this season, the 30-year-old has totaled 23 points on 13 goals. Compare that to the 0 points recorded by Leschyshyn and this would be an immediate upgrade for the Blueshirts should they choose to try and get Bjugstad. 

There is also the positive that he would only cost $900,000 in cap space so there’s more flexibility for the Rangers to try and make this deal. 

Nick Bonino – C, San Jose

Bonino is older than Bjugstad by a few years but he has the championship-level experience and can offer the type of play that the Rangers will need in order to get past physical teams in the playoffs. Bonino has 18 points in 55 games played this season but carries a cap hit of over $2 million. 

Should the Rangers go after a player like this while the Sharks would need to eat some of that cap? It all comes down to how the centers and newcomers fit in with Tyler Motte and Barclay Goodrow. If done correctly though, this could be a solid move. 

Ivan Barbashev – C, St. Louis

Who said the Rangers were done trading with the Blues? St. Louis is in a state of rebuilding after giving away Vladimir Tarasenko and could be looking to let the 27-year-old forward leave as well. Barbashev is a versatile player who can play on any line but would be highly effective on the fourth line for the Blueshirts. 

Barbashev also carries a cap hit of over $2 million so there will need to be more flexibility regarding the cap but he would be another immediate upgrade over the current fourth-line centers that the Rangers are currently putting forth. 

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