The New York Rangers have proven to be a wagon early in the 2023-24 NHL season. There is no team in the league playing better hockey than them right now. Head coach Peter Laviolette is seeing a ton of early success after taking over behind the bench for Gerard Gallant this past summer.
The Blueshirts certainly look like a force as the calendar prepares to turn to 2024. As a result, it’s hard to really gauge how they may approach hockey’s upcoming trade season. There isn’t a major pressing need for New York to address. If anything, they could simply look to bolster their depth for the playoff run.
However, we could also see the Rangers go for broke. And you can’t exactly blame them. After all, the last time the Blueshirts won a Stanley Cup was in 1994. Furthermore, it’s been nearly 10 years since they last made the Stanley Cup Final. They’ve come close, but have fallen short each time.
The Rangers have momentum on their side. It makes sense for them to try and swing for the fences this season in a similar fashion to their work last year. With that said, here are three trade targets for New York Rangers fans to keep their eyes on in 2023-24.
Rangers could reunite with Vladimir Tarasenko
Speaking of last season, New York’s first big trade was to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues. Tarasenko established himself as one of the more consistent goal-scorers in the league through his time with the Blues. And the Rangers hoped he could provide some added offensive punch for their playoff push.
The Russian forward wasn’t bad in New York. Far from it, honestly. However, the goal-scoring wasn’t really there. He scored just eight goals in 31 regular season games with the Blueshirts. Tarasenko added three goals in seven playoff games, as well.
The veteran forward now plays for the Ottawa Senators. So far, he has turned in a respectable performance. Tarasenko has six goals and 19 points in 23 games. He isn’t lighting up the scoresheet, but he is on pace for 21 goals and nearly 70 points.
New York is familiar with Tarasenko, which means they could be more comfortable with him than other options. And perhaps the new head coach could see him perform better for the Rangers the second time around. Fans should not count out Vladimir Tarasenko as a trade target for the Blueshirts.
Steven Stamkos could be on the move
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in an interesting position. As of this writing, they find themselves just outside of the playoffs. The Washington Capitals hold the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with five games in hand. Furthermore, the two teams ahead of Tampa also have games in hand over the Lightning.
If this continues, this creates a dilemma. Do the Bolts hang on to star captain Steven Stamkos and risk losing him next summer as an unrestricted free agent? Or, do they trade the veteran forward and ensure they get something in return for the two-time Stanley Cup champion?
Right now, it’s hard to make this call. However, if the Lightning decide to move the Ontario native, the Rangers could be a good fit. The 33-year-old usually plays down the middle, but he can move over to the wing if needed. New York would likely try him on the right side.
Overall, it’s hard to imagine the Lightning deciding to trade their captain. That said, if the Rangers want to make a major blockbuster move, there is certainly an argument to be made for targeting Steven Stamkos.
William Nylander would be a blockbuster pickup
The Toronto Maple Leafs are actually in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as of now. They sit third in the Atlantic Division, holding a one-point lead over the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings. Toronto’s position in the playoff race isn’t secured yet, though. And as a result, they face a similar dilemma to that of the Lightning.
William Nylander has burst onto the scene this season for the Maple Leafs. He is currently on pace for a 41-goal, 113-point 2023-24 campaign. It would mark his second consecutive 40+ goal season, as well as give him his first 100+ point season.
Nylander is also a free agent in the summer of 2024. His play this season has almost certainly guaranteed he will receive a healthy raise from the $6.9 million he is making this year. And that raise may not be a price the Maple Leafs can or are willing to pay.
Of course, this trade idea is quite bold. Toronto would need vehement confirmation that Nylander won’t re-sign, and they’d likely have to fall out of the playoffs, as well. But if he becomes available, William Nylander should be the top trade target for the New York Rangers.