Rangers seek to shut down NHL deadline talks

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — The NHL’s trade deadline is less than two weeks away and the Rangers are preparing for uncharted territory as a team sure to be active.

For the first time in a while, Rangers sit comfortably in playoff position as the March 21 cutoff steadily approaches. President and general manager Chris Drury has no doubt been working on the phones, and Rangers are expected to have some signings in the final stretch of the regular season.

No matter how many years a player has been in the NHL, the weeks leading up to the closing date never seem to get any easier.

“I think the situations were really different every year,” said Mika Zibanejad before the game The Rangers lost 5-2 to the Wild on Tuesday evening at the Xcel Energy Center. “If you’re not in a playoff spot or like this year we are in a playoff spot, there are different conversations going on than last year and the year before. I think it’s part of that, I’ve been through a lot of them.

“It’s obviously interesting, but it’s not something you focus too much on. You still have to mind the business and take care of yourself and every guy in the locker room. Lets see what happens.”

Mika Zibanejad tries to control the puck during Rangers' 5-2 loss to the Wild.
Mika Zibanejad tries to control the puck during Rangers’ 5-2 loss to the Wild.

Rangers are aiming to pick up a forward from the middle of the top-6 as well as another defender as they prepare for their first legitimate playoff berth since the 2016-17 season. In order to make either or both of these moves, Rangers will certainly have to part with some high-level prospects or a bubble player or two who may or may not have been with the team for parts of this season.

It’s something that’s inevitably on everyone’s lips, but Rangers are in an ideal position compared to years past.

“You definitely always think about it,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of the trading deadline. “Specially, you know, every player loves their teammates and loves their group and sometimes you get traded and even if you don’t get traded you still think about it until the deadline. So you’re worried. It’s part of our game and it’s a hard part of our game.”

Julien Gauthier pulled back into the lineup on Tuesday after suffering a healthy scrape against the Jets, pushing himself into the right wing of the third row alongside Barclay Goodrow and Filip Chytil. Tim Gettinger and Jonny Brodzinski stayed in the lineup, this time on the fourth row alongside Ryan Reaves.

However, as the game steadily unraveled, Gallant let Reaves do some top row replays with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. That moved Alexis Lafreniere to the third unit while Gauthier dropped to the fourth row.

“They played the matchup game with their big boys,” Gallant said of putting Reaves in front. “I wanted Reavo to be on this side. Laffy did nothing wrong, Laffy was great and I told him that. It was just the matchup for tonight and things will be back to normal. Rangers seek to shut down NHL deadline talks


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