RUMOR: Rangers Interested In Winnipeg Forwards

Earlier today Kevin posted speculation about Martin Erat that makes me want to dropkick babies and snort Comet, so let's attempt to wash that away with a more aesthetic report. 

The Rangers and Jets have been feeling each other out, with the Rangers looking into acquiring one of Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, or Blake Wheeler, according to The Fourth Period. From the article:

"According to a source close to the situation, the Rangers have spoken with the Winnipeg Jets about their forwards. 

It's believed the Rangers are interested in acquiring one of Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler or Andrew Ladd from the Jets, who are open to offers, but would require a significant package in order to part with any of those players."

They go on to point out that the Jets have been scouting the Rangers recently.

The idea passes the initial "smell test." The Rangers certainly could use a physical, scoring forward to bolster the top-six. Wheeler and Ladd are both 27 while Kane is 22, and all three are signed at least through 2016, so they make sense insofar as the Rangers can't afford to move big assets for a rental.

The Jets are at the bottom of the Central Division, just fired head coach Claude Noel, and are on track to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season since moving to Winnipeg. It makes sense that they would look to change the structure of their roster and move in a different direction. At the same time, though, Ladd, Wheeler, and Kane are all good, young forwards under contract for a while, and so the Jets have no reason to rush into a deal and take anything less than high value for any of them.

According to the report, the Jets would require proven NHL talent in return, and TFP infers that at least one of the Rangers' young players on the roster would have to be included. Derek Stepan is a doubtful addition as moving him defeats the purpose of bringing in one of those forwards; it's a lateral move at best, and there's no pressing reason to move Stepan. Kreider surely would interest the Jets, but there's no way that Glen Sather moves Kreider unless a truly top commodity like a Patrick Kane or Taylor Hall was bizarrely being offered. Ryan McDonagh is a total non-starter for obvious reasons.

As I see it, that leaves Michael Del Zotto and John Moore as definite options. Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard are both 25. Do they count as "young roster players" by Winnipeg's standard? I'm not sure. The Rangers would probably have to add a considerable amount to any one of those four guys to make a deal happen. How much more Winnipeg would demand – and whether that amount is worth it to the Rangers – is the big question. At the very least, there is a basis for discussion that makes a trade theoretically plausible and workable. 


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