It’s no secret the Rangers are in a rebuild and will be looking to deal mid-6 forwards at the deadline. In return, the Rangers need young defenseman and or draft picks. Instead of continuing to trade primarily for draft picks, the Rangers need to start paying a higher price for premium defensive prospects that could be ready by next year. This means they will receive less net value on deals, but it’s better to get someone well on their way to coming up into the NHL as opposed to a prospect who could not be ready until 2020/2021 or later.
This isn’t easy to do because playoff contenders seldom have highly rated prospects. As Rangers fans know, when you’re a contender for a couple years you fall into a cycle of trading your first and second round picks frequently. One team that doesn’t fit this mold is the Colorado Avalanche. Two years removed from being the worst team in the NHL, the Avalanche are in the middle of the playoff hunt. Although they’ve been horrid as of late, it’s still likely they are buyers as they are still two points clear into the playoffs in what is an open year in the Western Conference.
The reason the Av’s are the perfect fit for a Rangers deadline trade is because they are in need of third and fourth line wingers while holding two of the best defensive prospects in hockey. The Av’s current third and fourth line wingers have combined for 116 games and 34 points.
The referenced defensive prospects are Conor Timmins and Cale Makar. Makar, the fourth pick in the 2017 draft, is a 20 year old Canadian at Umass Amherst. Last year he was crowned rookie of the year in among New England NCAA teams, and also led defenseman in goals and points en route to a gold medal in the WJC. This year he has been even better, recording 20 points in 18 games with a plus/minus of 12 for the Minutemen. Timmins, taken in the second round 2017, is also a 20 year old Canadian that was part of the Gold Medal winning team last season. Along with Makar, he was selected as a top three player on the Canadian team and finished the tournament with the highest plus/minus of any player. While he doesn’t have the offensive prowess as Makar, Timmins is viewed as a top-four defenseman that excels on defense but can also quarterback the power play.
Instead of trading for farm system depth and picks, the Rangers should orchestrate a deal to get one of these prospects. The Rangers could most likely acquire Timmins without giving up a pick, but it may require sending both Zuccarello and Namestnikov, or possibly one of them and Vesey. Makar will be more difficult to acquire, but the Rangers should be willing to pay a steep price as he is one of the best prospects in the world.