Can I just say that trading Filip Chytil to the Jets as part of a package for Pierre-Luc Dubois would be about the most Rangers thing the organization could do at this moment in time.
That is not meant as a compliment.
Dubois has told the Jets that he’s going to be outta Winnipeg in two years when he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. So of course management is looking to deal the center now as he is an impending restricted free agent with arbitration rights carrying a baseline $6.5 million qualifying offer.
I believe the report by Canadian outlet RDS that the Blueshirts and Jets have talked about Dubois, but I believe there is a far greater likelihood that Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff placed the first call than that his Rangers counterpart Chris Drury did. Additionally, it has become clear over Drury’s tenure of nearly 14 months that he will check in on just about everyone who might be available. That does not make him unique.
And yes, Dubois fits the profile for a player in whom the Blueshirts would have interest. He is just 24, he would fill the second center spot behind Mika Zibanejad for years, he was Artemi Panarin’s primary center for two years in Columbus in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Check, check, check.
But unless Dubois, who will probably be able to command a seven-year deal in excess of $50 million on the open market, is willing to take a major discount (And why on earth would he?) it is impossible to figure how the Rangers could fit him in under the cap.
Maybe, maybe, maybe, they could hollow out the roster, go with a handful of AHL-NHL tweeners (Julien Gauthier ring a bell?) below their marquee forwards and just sneak by this season. But what about going forward with both K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere due second contracts next summer that could amount to a combined $10 million-to-$12 million?
(Addendum: It is impossible to win 16 playoff games with a hollowed-out roster.)
Do you think that in this era in which the Devils decided to give Jack Hughes $8 million a year for eight years 117 games into his career that the Rangers are going to be able to bridge Miller and Lafreniere?
Do the words, “Offer Sheet,” mean anything to you?
And, by the way, the only way the Rangers could hollow out their roster and create 2022-23 space for Dubois would be to subtract Chytil’s $2.3 million cap hit from the ledger by sending him to the Jets as part of the trade package. What’s more, if the Jets are moving a center, it would stand to reason they would be interested in Chytil.
It would stand to reason that everyone would be interested in Chytil following his eye-opening playoff performance in which he tied Chris Kreider for the Rangers lead in five-on-five goals with six; led the team with five-on-five goals per 60:00; was second to Zibanejad to five-on-five points per 60:00; and was tied for second among forwards in goals-for percentage at five-five, trailing only Kaapo (Healthy Scratch) Kakko.
And now, after patiently going through five years of a learning and growth curve with Chytil, the Rangers are going to trade him in for a more expensive model before he reaches his 23rd birthday a couple of weeks before training camp opens?
They are going to trade Chytil on a $2.3 million cap hit before they know whether he can become a consistently productive second-line (or third-line) center at a reasonable price?
Come on, man.
Look, there are reasons to be skeptical. This might have been more a flash than a breakout. Chytil is not a classic dispatcher. But his confidence grew exponentially during the tournament. He can be a physical factor. Yes, he most certainly needs to improve his work at the dots, but by the way, Dubois has been under 50-percent in each of his six seasons and his 45.7 success rate over the last two years isn’t substantially better than Chytil’s 43.0.
But isn’t this the perfect time for the Rangers to, once and for all, find out about their 21st-overall pick from 2017? Don’t the Rangers desperately need production this year from someone who is making under $6.5 million?
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Dubois is more physically inclined than Chytil. He is stronger on the forecheck, though Chytil and erstwhile linemates Kakko and Lafreniere formed the Blueshirts’ most effective forechecking unit in the playoffs, with Chytil particularly effective below the hash marks.
Someone is going to get a good player in Dubois. The Jets are going to get a decent return for him. But that team is also going to get a player who has never quite lived up to his advance notices and who is going to be on the first long-term, big money deal of his career.
Another time, this would make some sense. But now, with the cap implications so stark and with Chytil on the cusp of establishing what he can become, it would make no sense at all.
Except when you remember that this is the way the organization has traditionally gone about things.
It would be quintessential Rangers.
That is not a commentary, not a compliment.