The NHL Trade Deadline is a little over a month away but the New York Rangers are already affected by deals going down. The Blueshirts may be sitting comfortably at third in the Metropolitan division, but a chief rival has made the first major swing of the trade season.
Lou Lamoriello’s gamble by trading away Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty, and a 1st-round pick for All-Star Bo Horvat sent shockwaves throughout the NHL Monday night. The Islanders sit just two points back of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and needed a big-time player to help turn the tide in a loaded division.
There are plenty of reasons why the Rangers are affected by a trade made by their arch-rivals. The two teams may not see each other for the rest of the year, but the possibilities are endless for what can happen in the coming months.
Here are three reasons why the Rangers have become affected by their rival’s big swing.
Isles set the trade market
Bo Horvat was considered one of the top players on the trade block. He wasn’t the only one though. Timo Meier, Patrick Kane, and Brock Boeser are names to watch who can play the right wing and score at a high level.
The Rangers are a team, like the Islanders, with championship-level aspirations. The issue with not being the team to strike first at the deadline is that they can no longer set the market. A player like Horvat going for an everyday player, a top prospect, and a first-round pick means that will be the minimum deal for other top players as well.
Meier and Kane are different players than Horvat but that doesn’t mean their value is discredited. If the Rangers want a top player to pair with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, they will need to swing for the fences and match or exceed what the Islanders have done.
Metro gets tighter
In case anyone needed any reminders, the Metropolitan division has become a warzone. The Islanders, Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Devils, and Hurricanes all have championship aspirations.
The Islanders securing one of the top goal-scorers in the league means the team believes they are close to competing with the league’s best. In doing so, the division has gotten a lot tighter.
That could be good news for the Rangers though. With their regular-season matchups with their cross-town rivals all done, that means the Islanders could start cracking wins against teams that the Rangers need to lose to get a higher seed once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.
The more the Islanders beat teams like the Devils, Hurricanes, and Capitals, the likelier the Rangers are to have home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Pressure on Chris Drury
Is Chris Drury going to be outbid by Lou Lamoriello? The Rangers have historically gotten the better player from the Islanders every offseason. It’s hard to see Lamoriello make a big trade for Horvat and for Drury to respond by not making any moves at all.
The Rangers might be a more complete team than the New York Islanders but they still have needs of their own. Finding a winger to pair on the first line is of paramount importance.
Even with Horvat off the market, the Rangers still have a chance to seriously improve the team. The question will be if Chris Drury is aggressive enough to do what Lamoriello has done.
If the Blueshirts are gunning for the title they have said, it won’t be a question.