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New York Rangers: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agent News and Draft Buzz

James Wrabel, Jr.Correspondent IIJune 22, 2012

New York Rangers: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agent News and Draft Buzz

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    With the 2012 NHL Draft merely hours away, the New York Rangers—and the entire NHL for that matter—have been quiet on transactions as teams are in a holding pattern until the proverbial shoe drops. For fans, the offseason can be an exciting time to see what new additions will join the team next season or if the latest hot-stove rumor involves your team somehow.

    Thus far, the Rangers have been linked to some high-profile names, but no trades have been made to this point. That could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your viewpoint. 

    Coming off a loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals, the Blueshirts have a lot to be proud of after their 109-point 2011-12 campaign, including witnessing the young team develop right in front of everyone's eyes.

    GM Glen Sather, at the helm since 2000, has, after a tumultuous beginning, built this current Rangers team from the draft up and with a couple savvy transactions.

    Can he do more of the same this summer?

Trade Rumor: Rick Nash

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    Could the curtain finally be closing on Rick Nash's tenure in Columbus? After as early as tonight during the draft, the answer could be yes.

    But where Nash will play next season is the question on everyone's mind. 

    As of a few days ago, the New York Rangers were believed to be the front-runners to acquire the Blue Jackets' captain. Their efforts wouldn't be futile as the team is looking to improve their offense any way possible heading into 2012-13 and acquiring the five-time 30 goal-scorer would be a step in the right direction.

    However, cold water may have been thrown on anyone who believed a trade was close as SportsNet's (and former Ranger) insider Nick Kypreos tweeted this yesterday:

    #SNdraft news. Seems #Sens and #Sharks most interested #NHL teams for #Bluejackets Rick Nash as of Thurs nite.

    — Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 21, 2012

    A trade to New York could still come in at the 11th hour, but reading that tweet makes you think Sather and the Rangers may have their sights set somewhere else. 

Trade Rumor: Bobby Ryan

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    As if the offseason wasn't exciting enough figuring out where Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Rick Nash among others would be playing hockey next season, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray decided to get in on the action as TSN's insider Bob McKenzie reported a few days earlier sniper Bobby Ryan may once again be on the trade market. 

    If you recall during the 2011-12 season, Ryan was nearly dealt back in early December before Murray decided to hold on to his offensive weapon and instead fired his head coach Randy Carlyle, replacing him with Bruce Boudreau.

    Ryan was given a reprieve and rejuvenated his season, finishing with 30 goals for the third-straight season. But could he be on a new team within the next several days? If Anaheim receives the right deal, it's very possible. 

    TSN's Darren Dreger offers this bit of information on how Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash are linked:

    Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash linked. Same teams in on both, so, if one goes, the other may move soon after.

    — Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 21, 2012

    The Rangers have been in on Rick Nash since February and nearly traded for Ryan back in December therefore making it plausible they are one of the teams inquiring about Ryan now.

    The Cherry Hill, New Jersey native might be a better option for New York than Nash is. He's four years younger, makes less ($5.1 million cap hit through 2014-15 compared to Nash's $7.8 cap hit through 2017-2018) and profiles better in the Rangers' style of play.

    However, they'll have some stiff competition, including fellow Atlantic division rival Philadelphia Flyers, who could trade for either winger if they strike out on other deals. 

Trade Rumor: The Untouchables

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    As with any major trade, teams will have to give up valuable pieces to acquire another team's valuable pieces. It's a matter of determining which pieces a team can live without versus which ones are necessary to continue being a successful team, or "untouchables."

    Larry Brooks of the New York Post provided a list today of players he believes will not be included in any trade for New York. Here's the list:

    The Rangers, who are believed to have quarantined Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan (in addition to Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist) probably don’t have enough young NHL-ready talent available in order to get Ryan, the 25-year-old with three years remaining on his contract at an annual $5.1 million cap charge.

    The Rangers have remained steadfast in not trading their kids, but the young assets that do not appear on the list are, at least, intriguing.

    Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and restricted free agent Micahel Del Zotto are potential trade bait should Columbus, Anaheim or a team we don't know of yet want to strike a deal. Fans would be leery of trading any of the above players mentioned, but something has to give in order to get.

Free Agency: Brandon Prust

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    While the New York Rangers do need to find either major players or complimentary pieces for next season, the team also has its own free agents to deal with, one of them being grinder Brandon Prust.

    Larry Brooks of the New York Post recently discussed the on-going contract negotiations between Prust and the team, and how both parties are apart on the money. About $1 million apart:

    Though sources stressed that lines of communication remain open and that it is conceivable that Prust could re-sign before July 1, it is believed the difference between the parties is significant — upward of $1 million over the life of a three-year contract.

    Prust is one of the core Rangers players despite being a bottom-six winger, playing with his heart on his sleeve every game and embodying what it means to be a New York Ranger.

    He's also a smart man. At 28, he has the potential to strike it rich if he hits the open market by a team willing to throw money around thus driving up the bargaining price. Money he may never get a chance to see again to secure himself and his family down the road. If New York truly values Prust's abilities, they'll bring him back.

    Ultimately, Prust looks to be a Ranger next season, but the road could be a bit bumpy along the way as both sides haggle over the money.

Draft Buzz: Who Could New York Take at No. 28?

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    Tonight, the New York Rangers are scheduled to draft at the 28th position of the first round. It's possible to find a steal late in Round 1 (a player by the name of Mike Richter was drafted 28th back in 1985), but more often that not it's tougher to do.

    Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News believes the Rangers could go in two directions, either going for forward Stefan Matteau—son of former Ranger legend Stephane Matteau—or if the organization is inclined to find Henrik Lundqvist's eventual replacement, draft 18-year-old goalie Oscar Dansk of Brynas Jr. in Sweden.

    Here's an excerpt from the article regarding both players:

    Stefan Matteau, the son of 1994 Rangers hero Stephane Matteau, is ranked 17th among North American forwards on NHL.com’s draft prospects list. His speed and ties to the organization are reasons some believe he could be a good fit with New York.

    The deepest crop in this year’s draft is the defensemen, but there are debates about their comparative worth. And if enough highly regarded blueliners come off the board early, perhaps the Rangers could once again dip into Sweden for a goaltender in Oscar Dansk of Brynas Jr. in the Swedish Jr. League. Henrik Lundqvist is 30 years old, and goalie development takes time. Dansk, at 6-2, 186 pounds, is ranked second among European goalie prospects and is often praised for his focus and positioning.

    Either one of Leonard's suggestions would be interesting.

    Having the son of one of the men responsible for the 1994 Stanley Cup would come with it fond memories and perhaps high expectations. Drafting Lundqvist's understudy of the future has to be high on the list of the Rangers' priorities; however, it may not be this year. Dansk's age could make it worthwhile, especially under the tutelage and supervision of Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire. 

    NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman, Mike Morreale and Steven Hoffner provided mock drafts recently and each had the Rangers selecting someone different, ranging from left wing Tanner Pearson to center Cristoval Nieves.

    Don't forget the chance to move down to acquire more picks (the Rangers only have four this year) and add to the quality prospect pool.

    What it comes down to is there's no clear direction for the Rangers to go in at 28. Their position, much like the draft, is a crap shoot. Anything is possible.

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