This past week, it became known that the New York Rangers are shopping defenseman Nils Lundkvist. According to reports, the young blueliner has grown frustrated with his role within the organization and is looking for a change of scenery. In fact, it is believed he is willing to skip training camp if a trade isn’t completed.
This is a disappointing development for the Rangers, as Lundkvist is plenty talented and still has a ton of potential. However, he has made it clear that he doesn’t believe he has a great opportunity to become a regular in the lineup competing against several other talented young blueliners in the Rangers organization, making a trade appear imminent. At just 22 years old, there should be plenty of teams interested in the offensively-gifted Swedish defenseman. Here are three landing spots that would make plenty of sense.
Los Angeles Kings
Larry Brooks of the New York Post, who was the first to report about Lundkvist wanting out, suggested that the Rangers may have interest in acquiring a top nine centerman in return. If that is indeed the case, the Los Angeles Kings fit that description to a tee, as they have several terrific young forward prospects and not a ton of depth on the blue line (from: Larry Brooks ‘Rangers trying to trade frustrated Nils Lundkvist’, New York Post, 9/1/22).
Young talents such as Rasmus Kapari, Gabriel Vilardi, Jaret-Anderson Dolan, Tyler Madden and Akil Thomas are all capable of playing the center ice position and are caught in a serious log jam when it comes to moving up the Kings’ depth chart. Their general manager in Rob Blake would likely have no issue moving one of them in order to bring in a talented young defenseman such as Lundkvist.
One team that has been heavily rumored to be interested in Lundkvist is the Montreal Canadiens. They also seem to be a good fit given that their blue line heading into the 2022-23 season is one filled with inexperience and plenty of doubt. By no means would he improve them in a major way this year, but he could be developed at the NHL level alongside a few of their other young talented defensemen in Justin Barron and Jordan Harris.
While the Habs don’t have nearly as many pieces to give up compared to the Kings, they do have a few players who could interest the Rangers’ brass in Cam Hillis, Jan Mysak, Riley Kidney and Sean Farrell. Though none of the three are NHL-ready just yet, they all have the potential to develop into impactful everyday players. Given how interested Jeff Gorton seems in adding a right-shot defenseman to his team, the Rangers may be able to squeeze even more out of him.
The Vancouver Canucks are a team who is desperate for some right-handed defensemen. They lack just that in terms of their prospect depth and don’t boast a ton of talent in that regard at the NHL level between Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Tucker Poolman. Adding Lundkvist to that mix would not only have the potential to benefit them in the future but could help improve their very weak blue line for the 2022-23 campaign.
As far as players going back, one that was recently suggested by Stephan Roget of Canucks Army was Nils Hoglander. While he isn’t a centerman, he is a very highly-skilled forward who, like Lundkvist, has had trouble making an impact at the NHL level. Given his struggles under Bruce Boudreau last season, a change of scenery may prove to be exactly what he needs to unlock his potential, as he hasn’t been able to do that to this point in Vancouver.
Trade of Potential
Given the uncertainties surrounding Lundkvist, it is unlikely that any team will be willing to part with a player who is making a regular contribution to their lineup at the NHL level. While he does have promise, there are also some red flags in his game which will likely scare teams when it comes to parting with anything drastic. What that means is that assuming a trade is completed ahead of training camp, it will likely involve players who have a shot to become impactful NHLers, but have yet to do so.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.