With All-Star weekend arriving and the March 3rd NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, every general manager is starting to scour the league for the best available options. Chris Drury and the New York Rangers will be looking for upgrades to their roster that won’t impact their cap problems next season.
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Yes, the Rangers have been linked to the big names on the market like Patrick Kane and Timo Meier, both of whom bring their own issues as to why obtaining them could hinder the Rangers’ long-term outlook. Kane seems to be battling an injury, and the asking price may not be worth the play you will get from him this season. Meier is a talented young forward, but the cost to acquire and retain him seems like one the Rangers’ cannot afford.
Their cross-town rival, the New York Islanders, acquired Bo Horvat this past week, starting the trade wheel. But for the Rangers, the best options seem to be cost-efficient guys that can boost the depth spots while giving Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kaapo Kakko more time in the top six.
Despite signing Ben Harpur to an extension and having Zac Jones in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Rangers need to add a shutdown defenseman on that third-pair left side. Whether he plays every game or not is the coach’s decision, but you can never have too many defensemen. Those factors make Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn a Rangers’ trade deadline target.
Schenn is the Perfect Rental
At 33 years old, Schenn is a veteran defenseman with a wealth of playoff experience. The Canucks blueliner won back-to-back Stanley Cups as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021 and was Rangers’ forward Barclay Goodrow’s teammate on that team.
With Schenn, you will get the prototypical physical, defensive style that traditionally describes an old-school shutdown defenseman’s game. He has excellent size at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, and has a plus-7 rating on a Canucks team that has a goal differential of minus-28.
After this season, Schenn is an unrestricted free agent, so his affordable $850,000 cap hit would be coming off the books. Bolstering the blue line with Schenn allows the Rangers to utilize the rest of their cap space on the forwards and improve their depth and five-on-five scoring.
Harpur has been a pleasant surprise since being inserted into the lineup, but for a playoff run, a cheap Schenn is a better answer on the third pairing alongside Schneider. Schenn has 16 points in 49 games and has accumulated 75 shot blocks this season. He averages 17:09 of ice time per game and is a reliable bottom-pairing guy.
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Per Natural Stat Trick, the Canucks have a goals-for percentage of 52.17% when Schenn is on the ice. The only defenseman on the Canucks with a higher percentage is Quinn Hughes. Schenn can defend well enough on a bad team to be a positive player. If acquired, his defense could significantly boost the Rangers’ goal margins at five-on-five.
Adding defensemen at the deadline is something every team tries to do. Affordable, low-cost options are valued commodities, and Schenn is just that. Not only is he still serviceable, but he adds an extra layer of protection in the case of an injury to another defenseman in the lineup. Schenn also possesses the physical style of play the Rangers value and is the kind of player that is built for the postseason.
What Could the Rangers Offer Vancouver?
Before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, the Rangers acquired Justin Braun from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a third-round pick in the upcoming draft. They also sent a fourth-round selection to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Frank Vatrano last season. These trade returns should be similar to what Vancouver will receive in return for Schenn.
The Rangers own their own first, the Dallas Stars’ first-round selection (conditional: if top 10, Rangers get 2024 first unprotected), their second, a third courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche, two sixth-round picks (one courtesy of the Winnipeg Jets), and their own seventh. They also have all of their 2024 Draft picks besides the third-round pick they dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in the Patrik Nemeth trade.
Clearly, the Rangers have the draft capital to make a quality offer for Schenn. I could see them moving next year’s fourth-round pick for him or possibly the 2023 third-round pick obtained in the Alexandar Georgiev trade. I cannot imagine the asking price for Schenn being higher than what it was last season for Braun, giving the Rangers’ the ability to obtain him.
The Canucks already moved their biggest trade chip in Horvat, which means they will be looking to stockpile future assets with the remaining trade capital they have. A mid-round pick for Schenn is a fair price and one I think the Rangers would be wise to pay to add him to their roster.