Most NHL teams know or have a solid idea of which players are on the trading block as the March 3rd trade deadline rapidly approaches. This may not be the case for the New York Rangers. Recent success and the proverbial “stepping up” of potential trade candidates leaves GM Chris Drury with a lot more questions than answers right now. (The addition of Vladimir Tarasenko this week could be a huge game changer for the Rangers – stay tuned.)
The Rangers are now solidly in playoff contention with a lock on the third spot in the Metro Division and a current 29-14-8 record. A three-game winning streak including wins versus the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks this week only shows that there isn’t a lot of rust for the Blueshirts to clean off after the recent All-Star break. The Rangers are 7-2-1 in the last ten games and if they can maintain their current momentum, they make a solidly deep run in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs this spring.
The Kid Line is shaking things up right now.
Normally, some of the young players who may have potential to help your team but even more potential as trade candidates start having their names popping up prior to the NHL trade deadline each season. This should be the case for the Rangers as well since the “Kid Line” of Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil look like possible trade fodder with other teams looking for some decently-priced young talent. However, the Rangers need to back off any trade talks for the Kid Line since they’re a substantial part of the recent Blueshirt success and any notion of trading them away may be premature.
Until recently, Alexis Lafreniere hasn’t quite lived up to the high draft expectations the Rangers had for him but right now he’s playing like his hair is on fire. With six points in the last five games including the overtime game winner against the Flames, it looks like Lafreniere is finally hitting his stride with the Kid Line and just in time. Kid Line mate Filip Chytil has seven goals in the last five games including 19 goals (and 13 assists) for the season. Along with Kaapo Kakko ( eight goals, 16 assists,) the Kid Line is making their presence known and felt in terms of meaningful and very productive ice time. Any potential trade talks may have have to be put on ice (sorry for the pun but it’s hockey talk after all) and let’s see how the rest of the season plays out before moving any members of the Kid Line out of New York.
Jaroslav Halak has revitalized himself with the Rangers.
Journeyman goaltender Jaroslav Halak was brought in this season not only as a regular backup to netminder guru Igor Shesterkin but as a way of pulling the “Ranger Killer’ off the market. However, the early leg of the season wasn’t too kind to Halak with a 1-6-1 record and what appeared to be a disappointing contract signing by the Blueshirts. Fast forward to the last month or so and Halak has re-charged his career with the Rangers including a 6-0-0 record in his last six starts and a respectable 2.66 goals-against average along with a .905 save percentage. Halak’s heroics helped keep the Rangers in the game this week against the Calgary Flames and currently he’s one of the hottest goalies in the NHL. With an All-Star netminder and a backup on a hot streak, the Rangers will no doubt reap a lot of benefits from solid goaltending as the NHL season moves into the final stretch.