Rangers NHL trade rumors: Needs, targets ahead of 2024 trade deadline

New York Rangers’ Vincent Trocheck, center, celebrates with teammates Ryan Lindgren (55) and Artemi Panarin (10) after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A solid NHL trade deadline for general manager Chris Drury will only solidify the New York Rangers’ standing as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

The Blueshirts are already among the NHL’s elite, coming off a franchise-record-tying 10-game win streak to help open up a five-point lead at the top of the Metropolitan Division. They are just one point back of both the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins for the most points in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday morning.

Igor Shesterkin is back to his elite level and Jonathan Quick’s renaissance has created one of the top goaltending duos in the entire league. Artemi Panarin is in the midst of a career season, so is Vincent Trocheck. Chris Kreider is on the precipice of a third-straight 30-goal season and Mika Zibanejad is flirting with a point-per-game pace. 

They’re the real deal, but one or two moves by Drury before the March 8 trade deadline positions them even better for a playoff run.

What do the Rangers need?

Rangers Devils Game 6
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York’s two most glaring needs are actually up front in the form of a top-line right-winger and a third-line center. 

This stems from the season-ending injuries suffered by center Filip Chytil and winger Blake Wheeler along with the waiving and subsequent release of Nick Bonino.

The Rangers are giving 2019 No. 2 overall pick Kaapo Kakko a look on the top line in the interim, which provides him a golden opportunity to prove his mettle. The numbers, however, don’t suggest much working alongside Kreider and Zibanejad as he entered Wednesday night’s play with just seven goals and four assists (11 points) in 38 games. 

Veteran Jonny Brodzinski, with four goals and 11 helpers this season, has stepped in as the third-line center, but an upgrade at the deadline can fortify the Rangers down the middle to create a relentless foursome of centers alongside Zibanejad, Trocheck, and the grinding Barclay Goodrow.


Which players could the Rangers target?

Adam Henrique Islanders trade rumors
(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Adam Henrique, C, Anaheim Ducks: The 34-year-old veteran and long-time New Jersey Devil would be the exact sort of third-line center the Rangers could use for the stretch run. He’s a versatile, two-way player who provides strong defensive play and can still produce offensively, tallying 16 goals and 22 assists in 57 games this season.

Alex Wennberg, C, Seattle Kraken: Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the Rangers have shown interest in the 29-year-old soon-to-be-free-agent. Another veteran option who plays a 200-foot game with plenty of playoff experience, Wennberg would be more of a puck-moving facilitator for the likes of Will Cuylle and Jimmy Vesey… or Kakko.

Anthony Duclair
San Jose Sharks left wing Anthony Duclair (10) is congratulated by teammates after his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Anthony Duclair, RW, San Jose Sharks: The former Ranger has been linked to his old club to potentially bolster that first line of Zibanejad and Kreider. The 28-year-old scored 31 goals with the Florida Panthers in 2021-22 but was derailed by an Achilles injury in late June that year. It limited his campaign last year to just 10 games and this year, he has 11 goals in 52 games. Granted, that is with one of the worst teams in the NHL in San Jose. His goal-scoring prowess could be revitalized with a return to New York. 

Frank Vatrano, RW, Anaheim Ducks: Another Duck and another former Ranger, Vatrano was a trade-deadline acquisition two years ago for Drury. He’s having a career year with 26 goals in 58 games, which would bring quite a surge to that first line. But the price would likely high considering he’s signed through next season.

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