The NHL trade deadline is less than five weeks away, and teams like the Rangers are searching for that one player to put them over the top. How about Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk?
Newsday reports the Rangers would be interested in Kovalchuk if the Thrashers make him available via trade before the March 3 trade deadline.
The move makes sense for the Rangers on the ice. The team has struggled on offense in recent weeks and is fighting to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Trading for the 26-year-old Kovalchuk could help the Rangers in the present and in the future. The left wing has scored 31 goals in 47 games this season and has been a consistently prolific goal scorer in the past.
But the cost to the Rangers is prohibitive. Not only would the Rangers have to give up prospects and/or draft picks to acquire Kovalchuk, they face the possibility of losing him at the end of the year. The two-time 50 goal scorer is an unrestricted free agent after the season, meaning the Rangers would have to offer a lucrative long-term extension or risk losing him.
It's questionable whether the Rangers have what it takes to acquire Kovalchuk. Critics wonder if Rangers general manager Glen Sather has the prospects and draft picks available to make a trade, and also question the team?s position in the standings.
The Rangers are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference. The team may decide to play out the season with what they have, maintaining their draft picks and prospects, and pursue Kovalchuk as a free agent in the offseason.
Kovalchuk is a hot ticket among NHL teams. If the Thrashers make him available before the trade deadline, the Rangers will face fierce competition to acquire the high-scoring left wing.
Whichever team wins the Kovalchuk sweepstakes will significantly improve their chances of hoisting Lord Stanley?s Cup this June.