According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, New York Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury and Gordie Clark, the team’s director of player personnel, were both on hand for Anaheim’s tilt in New Jersey Sunday. This of course led to speculation that a deal could be in the works between the two trades.
That speculation was further fueled by the appearance of four Rangers “scouts” at Tuesday night’s game between the Ducks and the Devils, as noted by Andrew Gross of The Record. Gross reported seeing Clark and Drury specifically in attendance.
The Ducks are off to a slow start (0 – 3 – 1) and have scored just seven goals in four games. They are also still working on re-signing RFA defenseman Hampus Lindholm and it has been rumored previously that the club would have to shed salary in order to make that happen. Recent reports have indicated the two sides are making progress on a deal, though some work remains. As of today, the Ducks are virtually capped out after agreeing to terms with Rickard Rakell on a new contract.
With top prospects Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore starting the season with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego, the team has the necessary depth to deal from their blue line once Lindholm is under contract. In addition to salary cap relief, the Ducks likely would want a young scoring-line winger to boost the team’s lackluster offense. This lines up with earlier reports this summer that the team was interested in adding a high-impact LW.
The Rangers have a plethora of NHL-quality forwards in the organization and could be willing to cash in on that depth in order to upgrade the team’s blue line. Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi have both missed time at the start of the season due to injury though it appears as if both blue liners will be back in the lineup relatively soon.
Hypothetically, a deal of Cam Fowler-for-J.T. Miller could work for both teams, though this is just my speculation. Miller and Fowler each have two seasons remaining on their current contracts, though the Ducks defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent upon the expiration of his deal while Miller will remain under team control. In this scenario the Ducks would save $1.25MM on their salary cap, not an unsubstantial amount but likely not enough on its own to re-sign Lindholm without additional moves.
It should also be noted that Miller has played mostly RW and C for the Rangers and wouldn’t address the Ducks previously stated desire for an impact LW. But at 23-years-old and coming off a 22-goal season in 201-16, Miller could certainly add some punch to Anaheim’s offense.
Of course just because the Rangers had several of their top evaluators on hand at a couple of games may simply be a coincidence. It’s possible they took advantage of the fact they were already in the New York area at the same time the Ducks just happened to be in town to play the Islanders and Devils, though the presence of such a heavy contingent would seem to indicate otherwise.