Author: Nick Barnes

Chaos for New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have been hinting at an absolute fire sale from their team as they continue to drop points in the highly competitive Metropolitan division. Yesterday they sent out a memo to fans saying that they will do everything in their power to get back to being the perennial playoff they are known to be. However, it will most likely come at the cost of some familiar faces. Reports are that all veteran assets are available including some bigger names such as Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Grabner.

new york rangers
Henrik Lundqvist has not been directly linked to any trade rumors but he has come out and said he wants to remain a Ranger for life. His trade value may also be at an all-time low as he has been pulled early in three of his last six games. Lundqvist has never played in a meaningless game in his entire career so a teardown will be especially hard for the Hall of Fame goaltender but a roster overhaul is a next step for the blue shirts. Lundqvist has said he is all in on whatever the Rangers plan to do in the future, but that very well may just involve moving the King.

Not only has the entire roster been put on high alert but head coach Alain Vigneault has as well. Pressure from fans has been growing since the all-star break but as the Rangers have lost a lot and lost in ugly fashion management may be ready to move on as well. Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton has refused to comment on the future for Vigneault, a complete change of tone as he strongly backed his coach early this season.

Chaos has ensued in New York and the Rangers, for the first time in recent history, are no longer contending for the cup. While the memo to the fans was a great gesture it will be tough to see the Rangers be at the bottom of the league rather than contending for a cup.

Trade Block: Alex Galchenyuk

If you need an example of how to not treat a first round pick then look no further than the Montreal Canadiens. Alex Galchenyuk has been moved all over the lineup from first to the third line, from center to wing, and back again. It finally appears the all-star forward has landed on the trade block.

alex galchenyuk

Clearly Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world, however, at the first sign of a rough stretch, he is moved down the lineup, playing with different players, or even moved to a different position. Montreal is off to a very rough start to this season and is currently out of a playoff spot which is never a good place to be after both the Canadian and American Thanksgivings. Realistically Montreal has struggled in all facets of their game; spotty goaltending, a lack of talent and depth on defense, and sporadic goal scoring have all been headlines this season. While fans and the media are raving as to who is to blame or what the fix is most all speak of gloom and doom for the winningest franchise in NHL history. As management, coaching staff, and player search for answers we may see the end of the ‘Chucky’ era in Montreal.

This is Galchenyuk’s first season in his three-year deal which carries a cap hit of $4.9 million and can limit his potential destinations. However at only 23 the immensely talented forward can already plug into a number one center role for more than half the teams in the league and is only going to grow as a deadly goal-scoring presence. The future of this franchise hangs in the balance as GM Marc Bergevin needs to gauge if Coach Claude Julien can turn things around with what he has, if it is time to embrace the idea of a rebuild, or if they are only one piece away from becoming cup contenders yet again.

If Montreal wants to win with what they have now it is time to clearly define Galchenyuk’s role. While moving lines around is part of the NHL coaching staff and management have taken this too far and it is time to let him settle in a role and only move things around if they continue to be dire. Montreal seems to be righting the ship to an extent as the season progresses; we are finally seeing a healthy Carey Price play to the level he has been capable of and the scoring has begun to turn it itself around, however, a lack of team defense will continue to handcuff this team for the remainder of this season and for the immediate future which is why it may be time to embrace a rebuild.

There is no reason why Galchenyuk couldn’t be a cornerstone for a rebuilding franchise however with one of the highest trade values on the team number 27 would most likely be one of the first player moved. While there are not too many teams that are one top end forward away from being a contender and have $4.9 million in cap space there are plenty of teams who appear to be coming to the end of a rebuild. The Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, and possibly the Buffalo Sabres, are all teams in the realm. The Sabres are a little more interesting as their rebuild seems to have stalled right as it was getting going but the injection of a talent such as Galchenyuk might be just what they need. These teams may gamble in throwing away future assets begin focusing on winning right now. Other teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers or the San Jose Sharks are showing signs that a rebuild is imminent and would need to shed some salary but Galchenyuk can be a cornerstone for both their futures. Both these teams have talented defensemen that could be the one or two pieces Montreal needs.

It is never easy to see an unbelievably talented player depart a franchise but Bergevin, if he can keep his job, has a lot of tough decisions to make and as the rumors continue to swirl Galchenyuk could be on his way out the door.

Trade Block: John Tavares

The New York Islanders had one of the most intriguing offseasons in the NHL and a lot of those pieces are leading to a John Tavares departure. The top-flight center has openly admitted to being disgruntled with the current state of the team and unless things change will no longer be a part of their future.

john tavares

The Islanders will be homeless at the end of 2019 as the owner of the Barclays center is reportedly exercising an opt-out clause in the original 25-year contract. The clause needs to be activated by Jan 31, 2018, and, if activated, the team would be forced to relocate at next seasons end. The new ownership group has reportedly been interested in a new arena near Citi Field or Belmont Park. However, a team that is notorious for struggling to turn a profit and struggling to secure public funding could possibly be looking towards a move to Quebec City.

None of this has sat well with the all-star center. He has done his best to quiet these talks, and his play has proven that this will not be an on-ice distraction but his feelings were well documented this off-season. GM Garth Snow has been working towards an extension as the season progresses, and Tavares has shown interest to stay, but it will be tough to convince number 91 to sign if they don’t have a rink to call home. While it would appear a free agent departure is the most likely outcome for this situation there is no reason to believe that if extension talks have come to a standstill Snow will not take an offer to recoup some of those draft picks they sent over to Vegas or a few top prospects.

Tavares’ current contract is extremely team-friendly with a current cap hit of only $5.5 million so much so even the Blackhawks could afford to bring him on. While he is expected to command around $12/year this offseason his current $5.5 million hit should have GMs preparing bids as we approach the trade deadline. While almost every team is reportedly interested in him this offseason teams GMs will have to gauge the risk vs reward of winning immediately and trading for negotiation rights. A center of Tavares’ caliber could command a king’s ransom in a trade situation, although he will most likely be departing at seasons end a blockbuster deal on deadline day is not out of the question.

adam henrique

Trade Block: Adam Henrique

The New Jersey Devils are off to the best start in franchise history. However, they are still very much in the middle of a rebuild and have some bodies that may be moved. Unfortunately for Devils fans one of the top names that could appear on the trade block is Adam Henrique.

adam henriqueThe 27-year-old center has rebounded after a very rough year and has impressed around the league with his ability to put up points and a rejuvenated defensive game. He will be an unrestricted free agent for the 2019-20 season making him 29 when he hits the market. At that age, he will most likely be looking for one more long-term deal, probably around 5 years, and of course market value for his play. Multiple things are working against the Devils resigning him during this time; they are going to have multiple young players to lock up, their system has a logjam of potential NHL centers, some of whom can play a very similar role to Henrique, and finally any money that could be allocated to bringing him back could, and should be spent on bringing in some NHL caliber defensemen. Unless he is willing to take a major hometown discount and a shorter “bridge” deal number 14 will most likely be departing the red and black of New Jersey.

Rather than lose him, dealing him when his trade value is at its highest would suit the team best. Even in the aftermath of the Matt Duchene trade, the Devils don’t need to be in any rush to make a deal now. If they truly are a playoff team that can make a good run in the playoffs then of course nobody will be moved and there may be some potential additions. A reassessment around deadline day will most likely decide the future for Henrique however if they make a playoff push a move during the offseason is a possibility as well.

One team that specifically comes to mind is the Carolina Hurricanes. A player like Henrique can take them from a bubble playoff team to a potential contender. He’s proven he can be a number one center when surrounded with talented wingers, as we saw during the 2012 playoff run with Parise and Kovalchuk, but can also be used to lengthen the scoring depth of a team as a number 2 or even 3 centers similar to his current role in New Jersey. Carolina has a plethora of young NHL defensemen which is a major need for the Devils. However, given the defensive depth of this upcoming draft, Ray Shero may be able to feast on any contending team if they lose a center and acquire an early round draft pick.