So much can happen until the close on February 24, but one thing is certain: Jeff Gorton's phone rings.
As the Rangers general manager and his team continued their goodbye week that followed the All-Star weekend in St. Louis, they continued to focus on the future, not the present. Of course, this does not change the mindset of current players and coaches who are aiming for a postseason. But the club has a handful of obvious trades that are being talked about from now until the deadline. So let's take a look at each one and find some possible landing sites when they are dealt with:
LW Chris Kreider, 28 | Unrestricted free agent
He is the third longest ranger after Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal and has become one of the most respected voices in the locker room. But with a big payday this summer – say, six years at $ 7 million per chalk that will be below the salary limit in the future – would require a few fancy accounts from Gorton & Co.
He is also arguably the best striker available on the rental market, making the first-time return (plus) difficult to resist. Last weekend Kreider was asked if he wanted to go to Boston, where Danton Heinen and an election might do it. Colorado should also be interested in adding some size. Arizona could also be there to reunite Kreider with Derek Stepan, and Vegas could use a boost in advance.
G Alexandar Georgiev, 23 | XRF with arbitration law
It's hard to believe that more ink is spilled on a Netminder with 66 NHL games and what many call mediocre career numbers – at least 3.02 goals – versus the average, not the 913 savings. But watching Georgiev in the past two seasons has shown that it was a goalkeeper who mostly managed to play well and who dealt professionally with the shadow of Lundqvist – and now with Igor Shesterkin's intervention.
But Gorton doesn't give it away, nor has an offer broken the doors. Of course, the Maple Leafs make sense, but what makes sense for the Rangers in return? Again, Colorado could use nets, as could the sharks (which would be a long-term solution rather than just this year). And Florida could use someone to stem Sergei Bobrowski's implosion.
D Tony DeAngelo, 24 | XRF with arbitration law
The mercurial defenseman has heard the cash register ringing throughout the season, collecting the seventh most defensive points (12 goals and 25 assists in 48 games). His offensive talents are rare and shiny new toys are always attractive to competing clubs at this time of the year (instead of focusing on defensive deficiencies).
It would surely fit in Toronto, where they are desperately looking for help for their rear end. If the Rangers wanted something in return, maybe Georgiev and DeAngelo could do it. Winnipeg could use help there if they want to run. Would Carolina now consider Dougie Hamilton out due to his terrible leg injury?
RW Jesper Fast, 28 | UFA
Exactly the kind of player that would be a great addition to a bottom six and penalty shootout for a top end contender. He's not the most flashy guy, but he is loved by his teammates and his game is made for the postseason.
Could be great for Pittsburgh as GM Jim Rutherford prepares for another deep run. Almost any high-end talent in Tampa Bay could complement, as he would in St. Louis or Dallas. In fact, any playoff team can find a place for a player like Fast.
F Ryan Strome, 26 | XRF with arbitration law
The numbers were great (12 goals and 31 assists in 48 games), but how many executives believe this is a direct result of skating alongside Artemi Panarin? Nevertheless, Strome has shown that if he plays a bigger role in his natural middle again, he can keep up with the grownups – but how many teams in the playoff competition need a top six center?
His market could be due to major injuries, but his versatility to return to the wing could bolster upward talent for Vancouver and the same for Calgary. If Arizona misses Kreider, they may turn to Strome, who may also consider re-signing.