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Trade Coverage

Defenseman Yandle could be key piece in any move

Rangers NHL Trade Deadline outlook

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the New York Rangers: 


Record: 31-18-6; 2nd in Metropolitan Division 

Unrestricted free agents: Dominic Moore, C; Daniel Paille, LW; Viktor Stalberg, LW; Keith Yandle, D; Dan Boyle, D; Antti Raanta, G 

Restricted free agents: Chris Kreider, LW; Kevin Hayes, C; J.T. Miller, LW; Dylan McIlrath, D 

Projected 2016 draft picks: 6 (no firsts) 

Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 first) 

Needs: First-round draft pick 

Surpluses: None 

Players Potentially in Play: Yandle, McIlrath 

Likely status: Buyer 

Skinny: The Rangers haven't had a first-round draft pick since 2012 and they don't have one this season, either. That's why their biggest need is a first-round pick. They undoubtedly want one, too. Getting it without sacrificing a big piece off of their current roster might be impossible, and that's the problem. To get a first-round pick, they'd likely have to move Yandle, which would deplete their defense, particularly on the left side. Yandle is one of the more interesting potential UFAs because he's the prototypical rental defenseman contending teams would love to get, but he already plays for a contending team. Before the Rangers decide what to do with Yandle, they have to figure out if they have a team that can make a long playoff run. If the answer is yes, they have to keep Yandle. If they determine their roster is flawed and their window to win the Stanley Cup would still be open next season, trading him to get something in return would be the smart move. It's possible the Rangers will try to re-sign Yandle, but his market value likely is too high for them with Kreider, Hayes, Miller and potentially McIlrath all requiring new contracts. And they already have Yandle's replacement in Brady Skjei, playing with Hartford of the American Hockey League. Skjei was the Rangers' first-round pick (No. 28) in 2012. McIlrath is the other interesting player to watch. He has been a healthy scratch more often than not, and he's a RFA at the end of the season. Coach Alain Vigneault has shown lukewarm trust in McIlrath, playing him when he feels Boyle needs a rest or if there is an injury. The Rangers have to determine if he is going to help them this season and if he's a top-six defenseman next season. McIlrath has value on the trade market. He's 6-foot-5 and 23 years old.

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