With two significant trades already in the books, you get the sense the 2013-14 NHL management collective has less overall patience than usual. Now some funky rumblings involving the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and four former first-round draft picks are increasing in volume. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish, president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and special advisor Mark Messier took in Monday’s contest between the Anaheim Ducks and Rangers at Madison Square Garden. And you can bet they didn’t just pop by for a dog from Sausage Boss.
Forward Ales Hemsky and, to some extent, fellow winger Nail Yakupov are believed to be on Edmonton’s trade block and the Rangers’ radar. In exchange, candidates such as defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Chris Kreider are believed to be sought in exchange. We’ll leave it to others to dissect the likelihood of or intelligence behind any such transaction taking place; the potential fantasy fallout is what concerns us most.
A move to New York would undoubtedly boost Hemsky’s value as a fantasy asset. Often relegated to the Oilers’ third line this season, the winger would likely forge a spot among the top-six with the Rangers. GM Glen Sather wouldn't be willing to give up Del Zotto, or other young talent, unless he envisioned as much. This is admittedly crystal-ball talk, but we could see Hemsky get a shot on a Rangers line with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin, in place of Benoit Pouliot.
Likewise, Del Zotto would be afforded the opportunity to blossom in Edmonton. Aside from Justin Schultz, the Oilers are hurting for skilled offensive defensemen (with full respect to Jeff Petry, Philip Larsen, etc.), particularly when it comes to the power play. As it stands, Del Zotto is fighting Ryan McDonagh, John Moore and others for minutes with the man advantage under coach Alain Vigneault. A change of scenery could do wonders for the 23-year-old’s numbers.
As for Yakupov and Kreider, we’re wary to take anything other than a wait-and-see approach for now. First of all, both clubs would have to be willing to part with their respective promising youngsters. Even though Sather’s transaction history is riddled with bold moves, it’s difficult to see the New York club ship out its talented, big winger, especially with Rick Nash hurt (concussion).
Beyond that, we can only assume a prominent role, at least to start, would await either player with his new squad. Otherwise, there’s no way either club would pay the presumably hefty price to snag such a potential star. The Rangers won’t give up the farm to skate Yakupov on their fourth line, right? This trade speculation -- although still very much gossip at this stage -- is well-worth monitoring.