Whenever a National Hockey League general manager publicly comments on trade discussions the same two questions always come to mind. The first is whether or not he is already in talks to pull of the very trade deal that he is discussing, and the second is whether or not talking about it publicly isn't just the general manager casting his bait for rival general managers.
This week when speaking to Craig Custance of The Athletic New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton made some extremely candid comments about he will be approaching the offseason, and more specifically what he is willing to do on the trade market during the course of that very same offseason.
“The fact that you have picks and you have the ability to get your assets, it makes you a little more popular amongst your peers,” Gorton told The Athletic.
What Gorton is talking about here of course is the fact that the Rangers currently hold three picks in the first round of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, a position of power that very few general managers have ever had the chance to flex in any offseason. That's the Rangers own first round pick, the first round pick they got from the Bruins in the deal that sent Rick Nash to Boston, and the first round pick they got as part of the Ryan McDonagh trade they made with the Tampa Bay Lightning. What also adds to Gorton's negotiating power as he heads into the draft is the fact that he also has a two picks in the second round of the draft and another two picks in the third round of the draft.
While the Rangers could in theory use all of those picks to rebuild their prospect system, a system that has been sorely taxed in recent years as the Rangers consistently made deadline deals to help their playoff pushes in the short-term, no one expects Gorton to be that patient with his picks. In fact when he was asked about whether or not he would consider trading one of those first round picks, Gorton gave an extremely candid indicating that he was open to the idea.
“At the point we’re at, we’re looking to get as many good players as we can,” Gorton said. “We’re trying to rebuild. It’s hard to say no to anything. We have to keep our options open and I think we’ll do that.”
The Rangers could of course also use a combination of those picks to trade up in the draft, although it's hard to imagine that whatever team wins the lottery would be willing to give up the #1 overall pick, a pick that is expected to be top NHL prospect Rasmus Dahlin.
“We’re all out there watching these guys to find what that tier is,” Gorton said. “Everyone is talking about the No. 1 pick, it’s clear there are good players. Sometimes you have a great player and you get lost in the next few guys but the next few guys are good, too.”
One things is certain, the Rangers fan base is headed towards one of the most exciting offseasons in recent memory for that franchise.