Over the weekend Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that the New York Rangers were again considering dealing Michael Del Zotto, and two of Bleacher Report's National writers, Adrian Dater and Lyle Richardson, weighed in on the situation.
Adrian Dater of The Denver Post confirmed the Avs are shopping for blueline depth, but doubted Del Zotto was their target. For some time they’ve been linked to Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. The two clubs were recently believed to be close to a deal until it fell through at the last minute.
The Avalanche could draw from their forward depth for trade bait. Earlier this month it was reported left winger Jamie McGinn was available, but the Avs must sweeten the pot to land Kulikov or Del Zotto.
Given the two reports, are the Rangers and Avalanche ideal trade partners? Although a forward like McGinn would be a solid addition to the roster, he alone wouldn't land Del Zotto, and the Rangers' needs and Colorado's assets don't exactly match.
It goes without saying that the Rangers need to improve their forward core. Del Zotto could be a key trade chip, but the Rangers should interact with a team that can address that need.
The Avalanche have Ryan O'Reilly, a two-way center that would be a great fit for Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault's system. O'Reilly was linked to the Rangers previously, but he can't be traded until March because he signed an offer sheet.
Unfortunately, the struggling Rangers can't wait that long to improve their roster.
The Rangers' top six has been average at best this season, and the bottom six has been downright atrocious. The Blueshirts could stand to reshape their forward group via trade, but it is unlikely that the Avalanche would be willing to part with their young forwards.
Conversely, New York general manager Glen Sather would likely be leery of parting with assets for someone like center Paul Stastny, a forward the Rangers will likely pursue during free agency if Brad Richards is bought out. The Blueshirts' center depth hasn't been great this year, and the 6'0" 205-pounder would add skill, size and two-way play to the lineup.
The Rangers' blue line hasn't been any better, but that has been a result of injuries and lack of experience. The Rangers are still eager to upgrade their defense, but the Avs don't have anything expendable for the Blueshirts.
Are the Rangers and Avalanche ideal trade partners?
The only defender that would fit the Rangers' needs would be 2006 No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson, but there is no impetus for the Avalanche to trade him. He is an offensive defender that has played really well this year, and there is no reason that Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Ops Joe Sakic would consider moving him.
In addition, both the Rangers and Avalanche are looking to improve their defense corps, but a swap involving Del Zotto and Johnson would be a lateral move. A player that the Rangers could have interest in is Tyson Barrie, a 22-year-old, 5'11" and 190 pound blueliner.
There is also no proof that the Avs would be willing to move a player that projects to be a Del Zotto-like player when fully developed.
He would be an asset in a deal that included another defender, but there isn't another defender in this situation that could make a deal possible.
All in all, the Rangers and Avalanche don't have enough pieces to get a deal done. Each team is trying to add a top-four defender, and any deal made between the two teams would be lateral in nature.