Rangers swap targets All Star break edition Filip Chytil39s absence

Rangers swap targets, All-Star break edition – Filip Chytil's absence changes focus – The Athletic

This free week signals the start of the closing season, with just under six weeks until the March 8th deadline. Combined with the Rangers' descent into mediocrity over the last two months, when they came into the break 12-12-2 in their last 26 games after starting poorly at 18-4-1, GM Chris had a point Drury already has great urgency to try to improve his squad, particularly as a striker.

Then Friday came. In his second appearance on the ice after a nearly two-month absence due to a concussion, Filip Chytil had to be taken to the Garden locker room after suffering an accident during the morning three-man skate. On Sunday came the expected announcement that Chytil would be closed for the remainder of the 2023-24 season, including the postseason, a terrible development for the 24-year-old.

So now Drury must move on with the goal of finding a centre-forward, which is perhaps an even bigger priority than finding a right-winger for the top nine for the third year in a row. Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp were big hits in 2021-22; Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane were a mixed bag last year.

The Rangers will receive Chytil's $4.44 million cap hit from long-term injured reserve, which is the only bright spot in this whole situation. This certainly increases the options for Drury, perhaps even to the point that he can sign two strikers if everything fails for him.

We had a few of these names on our very early list last month, but now there are a few more to keep an eye on.


Adam Henrique, Ducks: Makes the most sense as a very capable No. 3 center who can still perform, as he showed last weekend with two goals against the Rangers in Anaheim. He won't demonstrably make the Rangers faster, but he plays an all-around game and wouldn't look out of place between Will Cuylle and Kaapo Kakko, giving the Rangers a threatening third line. The Ducks appear poised to eat up some of his $5.825 million cap hit, meaning the pool of buyers could be large. He's not worth a first-round pick, but it might be worth giving up a second pick to make that happen.

Elias Lindholm, Flames: If Drury is going for it — and as one Eastern Conference executive noted earlier this week, “Why wouldn't they be all-in when the East is so wide open?” — it might be worth paying a hefty price tag to acquire Lindholm to pay. The pending UFA contract is well out of the Rangers' reach, so this would be strictly a rental and expensive at that, considering other teams might want to sign Lindholm after trading him. A first-rounder is certainly part of any Calgary demand, but Lindholm would give the Rangers dangerous depth at center.

Jack Roslovic, Blue Jackets: Is very attractive for the Rangers as the 27-year-old plays in the middle and on the right wing and, in addition to a decent profile in the third row, also offers some goal-scoring opportunities. He's also a prospective UFA player who may not spend much money beyond this season and definitely wouldn't cost more than a second-rounder now.

Sean Monahan, Canadian: Fits Henrique's mold ideally, but people with knowledge of the situation have been saying for weeks what Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night: There is no love between former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, now Montreal's top manager, and Drury lost. There's also the matter of Gorton hiring two of the longtime Rangers employees Drury let go: scouting director Nick Bobrov and medical trainer Jim Ramsay. A person who speaks regularly with the Canadiens said that Montreal's front office has believed for some time that there is no chance of Drury even making contact with Canadiens GM Kent Hughes. Perhaps that is changing, but there are signs that both sides are looking elsewhere.

Alexander Wennberg, Kraken: Another pending UFA player who doesn't have the same well-rounded game as Henrique but would help the Rangers. The cost may not be that high, although Seattle still apparently isn't convinced it's selling.

Yanni Gourde, Kraken: This would require some creativity since Gourde has another season after this with a cap hit of $5.16 million. So the Rangers would need to send a contract the other way – take note, those demanding Barclay Goodrow go – and some assets to make this work. Far-fetched, but Gourde has the right makeup to be a solid 3C for the Rangers.

Kevin Hayes, Blues: Welcome back, old friend? Hayes was a popular Ranger and would miss five deadlines again after being dealt to the Jets in the first round. The main issues here are that the Blues are headed to the playoffs and Hayes still has two years left to hit the $3.57 million cap hit. If the Blues could retain some salary, it could work and give the Rangers a very capable third or fourth center for a short period of time.

Morgan Frost, flyer: There's a slightly different option here, as Frost, the 27th pick in the 2017 draft, has plenty of talent, but not much of a fan with Flyers coach John Tortorella. At some point, the Rangers will have to get younger at center, even with Chytil in future can return. Frost would certainly cost them a first, but he has cost control for the next two years beyond that.


Vladimir Tarasenko, Senators: Ottawa would have to defer salary to Tarasenko's $5 million cap hit for this to work, especially coupled with another move for a center, but a reunion makes perfect sense. Tarasenko was a solid addition to Mika Zibanejad's wing last season and will be motivated to secure a longer contract with a good spring and playoff run. Unless there is another trade for a right wing behind him this time, Tarasenko could once again be the answer to the problems on the right.

Jordan Eberle, Kraken: Perhaps Drury can fill both key forward spots in a deal by adding Eberle, still a solid top-six RW, to one of the aforementioned centers. Of the upcoming UFA forwards, the Rangers could do a lot worse than Eberle, who had a couple of big playoff runs with the Islanders not long ago.

Anthony Duclair, Sharks: Ignore the hideous metrics because everything San Jose is doing data-wise this season is colored deep red on every chart. Duclair still possesses game-breaking speed and a more well-rounded game since struggling for ice time as a Ranger as a teenager. Wouldn't cost much either.

Alexander Barabanov, Sharks: The kind of high-motor third-liner that the Rangers apparently don't possess. Also has a certain touch. He'll be one of the ones you'll be assigned to at the end of the deadline and end up making a difference somewhere.

Jason Zucker, Coyotes: Arizona is still in the playoffs in the West, so this could finally be the year the Coyotes don't sell everything that isn't nailed down. On the other hand, Zucker is still productive and enjoys getting his nose dirty, a few traits the Rangers could use.

Frank Vatrano, Ducks: He's headed to the All-Star Game and the Ducks aren't exactly brimming with talent, so moving him seems like a long shot. However, he worked well with Chris Kreider and Zibanejad two years ago, so Drury is at least worth a call.

Brock McGinn, Ducks: A guy who scored some big goals in Carolina and Pittsburgh and didn't do anything in Anaheim. He still has one more year left at $2.75 million, so this would be one of the cheaper additions the Rangers could make in terms of assets, but perhaps not a guy you'd want to commit to for another season.

Patrick Kane, Red Wings: Just kidding.

(Photo of Frank Vatrano (77) and Adam Henrique (14): Andrew Mordzynski / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)