September 26, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Right winger Leo Komarov (47) and New York Rangers club Nils Lundqvist (64) battle for position during the first period of their pre-season game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Niels Lundqvist He requested a deal last season after the New York Rangers sent him in in January. This was revealed by his agent Claude Lemieux, who cited the lack of a near or long-term opportunity for the young defensive man as the reason.
“We asked for a deal when Nils was sent last year,” he said. Lemieux said in the text to Forever Blueshirts. “Hopefully something will be done in the next few weeks.”
While trading before the season starts is a possibility, it’s not GM Chris Drury’s style of rushing any moves. You saw it with Vitaly Kravtsov, who publicly requested a deal after refusing to report to the Hartford Wolfpack last September. Not only is he still here, but he will be given a chance to win a role on the team.
Lundkvist also has two years left on the entry contract at $925,000. This kind of cost certainty will only help in the value of his trade.
The New York Rangers are looking forward to Nils Lundqvist
The New York Rangers and Nils Lundkvist have reached a critical juncture. After impatiently waiting for the 2018 first round pick (28th overall) to come from Sweden, it only took him one season to see him abroad.
Before Lundkvist made his way to the Rangers, he was considered one of the organization’s top leads. In his last SHL season, he won a race Salming Cup As the best Swedish-born defender in the league, scoring 14 goals and 32 points in 52 games. This was the most goals scored by a defensive man as a player aged 21 or younger in SHL history.
Lundkvist then competed in bootcamp to win the 2021 Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as Best Rookie. He was a smooth skater with a great shot, and was also strong in all three areas. Being a natural right-wing defender and his ability to play in the middle, Rangers’ strong second unit play was the main factor behind why he beat Zach Jones to win the sixth man’s defensive position.
“It was an adjustment,” Niels said after his first exhibition match. “You need to play more in the middle of the ice. Back home (in Sweden) when you’re on the points, you have a lot of space. When you’re there, you’re close to the boards – so it’s going to be an adjustment. It’s getting better and better.”
It seems like this mod was coming on very slowly and eventually resulted in it getting scratched every now and then. Playing with veteran left-back Patrick Nemeth didn’t help his cause. Lundqvist went on to play 25 games for Rangers last season, scoring 1 goal and 3 assists before being sent to the Hartford Wolfpack in January for Braden Schneider.
Lundkvist’s lack of opportunities
Lundkvist’s concerns about the lack of opportunities are well-founded, especially since he is a right-winger. The Rangers’ right-hand defense was beefed up over the next few seasons with new captain Jacob Tropa, Norris Award winner Adam Fox, and the aforementioned Schneider.
Obviously he could try to shift to the left side of the team formation, but Zach Jones and Matthew Robertson are higher on the depth chart. Both are naturally left-handed and have experience playing for Schneider at Hartford.
Don’t be wise to read the tea leaves and see that the likelihood of Lundkvist breaking through the Rangers lineup anytime soon is low.
So what will the 22-year-old defender achieve in the open market? Who would be interested? These are important questions and the answers will likely determine whether Drury trades it now or on the deadline.
Trade Nils Lundqvist
If the Rangers are to trade with Lundkvist before the start of the season, you can safely assume it will be for a similar potential type. Drury will be asking for a highly ranked player, most likely a position chosen in the first round and who still has a year or two into his entry contract.
Of course, this is not consistent and not many teams will jump in trading a higher position. That’s why I think this could take a lot longer and Drury might see more value in providing a high-deadline trading chip for a hire like Patrick Kane.
For the sake of argument, there are many teams that either have or may have an interest in Lundkvist.
Vancouver Canucks: When JT Miller was shopped last season, the name Lundkvist was thought to be Rangers’ favorite defender to go the other way. Vancouver was said to be ordering a Schneider (and much more), which is probably why they didn’t make a deal. The team is still looking for help at RD and Lundkvist is still a target for them. Perhaps he could go the other way for Bo Horvat, the UFA center hanging by the deadline.
Montreal Canadiens: Everyone assumed that once Jeff Gorton took charge of the Hab, he would make an offer to Kravetsov. If a proposal is submitted, it is clearly not a competitive one. Now everyone expects the GM who coined Lundkvist to be all in to get it. While that may be the case, the Hab is looking to weed out, not replace, veterans looking for prospects in rebuilding.
Toronto Maple Leafs: They definitely need a defensive guy who moves the puck disc on the right side that is cost controlled. But do they have anything to offer? While the Rangers have prospects ready to step in on the left side with Schneider, Toronto have unsigned RFA Rasmus Sandin. That would make an interesting trade-off, but if Sanden is looking for a big contract, the Rangers won’t have much room to accommodate it.
Detroit Red Wings: They are another team in rebuilding like the Canadians. They would definitely like to add Lundkvist to their mix in defense, I’m not sure I see a fit. hockey book Devin Little He recently proposed to 22-year-old Joe Felino. It may be in Drury’s best interest to improve depth in the organization and act as an insurance policy for Filip Chytil, who has only a year left on his deal.
Chicago Blackhawks: All signs point to hawks for me. Let’s face it, the New York Rangers are a Stanley Cup contender and adding Kane in the trade deadline will put them over the top. Remember that Kane is in control of where he goes and if he just wants to go to the Rangers, it might not take much more than Lundkvist and the first round pick to get him done.