With the approaching New Year rapidly upon us and we’re waiting for the stroke of midnight to start the calender all over again, it’s time to realize that for NHL teams, a different clock is ticking and it relates to impending player trades. The clock is now ticking on the March 3rd trade deadlines and as teams try to gear up for the unofficial “second” part of the season after the Christmas break, many teams including the Rangers are looking hard at potential trades with some teams wanting to pull the proverbial trigger before the trade deadlines. The question then remains – who’s on the trading block?

Where are the Rangers at this point?

As things stand right now, the Rangers sit on a 19-12-6 record and are 7-2-1 in the last ten games.  However, a big 4-0 loss to the Capsand a shootout loss to the Lightning no doubt leaves a bad taste with the Blueshirts and with teams like the Washington Capitals moving up the standings in the ever-tough Metro Division, it’s a massive understatatement to say that the Rangers have their work cut out for them.

There’s a virtual gridlock on the Eastern Conference wild card race with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders and the Rangers having an identical 44 points right now.  What this means for the Blueshirts is that every game, every point and every possible trade truly matter as the Rangers try to head back to the Stanley Cup playoffs again this season.

Which Rangers are potentially on the trading block?

That’s the million-dollar question right now not only with the Rangers but virtually every NHL team at the moment.  In all honesty though, all you have to do is look at who head coach Gerard Gallant has been scratching off rosters lately and that will give you a pretty good indication at who’s making the cut and who isn’t with the Blueshirts roster.

The first name that comes to mind is Alexis Lafreniere. Lafreniere was the Rangers’ first round draft pick back in 2020 and for one reason or another Lafreniere has never truly lived up to his draft ranking.  Lafreniere has been playing on the line at left wing with Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko but without much success lately.  In fact, when watching a Rangers game, you hardly even hear his name mentioned anymore.

Lafreniere has produced some numbers with five goals and 12 assists so far this season but nothing that would be considered a match to his hyped-up draft selection back in 2020.  After the horrific-looking 4-0 loss to the Caps this week, Gerard Gallant put Lafreniere down as a healthy scratch against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Let’s face it folks, a healthy scratch usually means something because the head coach is benching you for a reason.

Another Blueshirt who may be seen as a possible trade candidate is defenseman Libor Hajek.  Hajek was re-signed by the Rangers this past summer before training camp and has basically settled in this season as the odd-man out in the defense – literally.  With a six man defensive unit, Hajek has been a healthy scratch from multiple games which makes Blueshirt fans wonder ifHajek is little more than a practice squad-type of player. At any rate, sitting out games without even dressing is usually an indicator that an organization has moved on and it should not surprise Blueshirt followers if both of these players are actively marketed as trade candidates with the New Year knocking on our doorsteps.

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – MAY 01: Libor Hajek #25 of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on May 01, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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