The New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks meet tonight. In this game, though the scouts of both teams may be just as important as the players.
Tonight’s game at the Garden is not just some “ordinary” game.
No, its not a divisional matchup, nor is it a conference rival. It is not a playoff matchup and no, nobody is making their NHL debut.
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It is the Scouting Bowl!
For what seems like years now, the New York Rangers and the Ducks have always seemed to have trade rumors surround them. The only move that these teams have made together in the last few years was one with no winners. This was the Carl Hagelin for Emerson Etem swap.
Whether it has been Sami Vatenen for Dan Girardi (if only…), Cam Fowler, Rick Nash or the majority of players from the two teams, you can bet that there has at least been one rumor.
I am a believer in “where there is smoke, there is fire,” so there very well could be ongoing dialogue between these two teams today, in the past and possibly in the future.
But tonight, these two teams will have plenty to look at.
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The Rangers will be looking at a defense that boasts three solid, young players in Vatanen, Fowler and Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks will not entertain offers for Lindholm and are not likely to move Vatanen, either.
Fowler is the guy that they will be open to moving due to the looming expansion draft. This is because they will only three defensemen will be protected–unless they go with the 8 skaters option.
Vatanen, Lindholm and Kevin Bieksa–due to his no-movement clause–will need to be protected via the standard protection format.
On the flip side, the Ducks rank 20th in the league in goals and will definitely look to add offense to their disposal. Anaheim might be interested in a guy like Rick Nash who is under contract for another year after this one and has had spurts where he has looked dominant this year.
Nash could be a good fit on an already big forward group. He would definitely add a speed dimension to its core group, which could help them a lot.
The Rangers may be more willing to deal Nash than any other forward of value on their roster. This would be because of his age, cap hit and no-movement clause that would prevent them from protecting Michael Grabner in the expansion draft.
For all we know, there could be a million other players being talked about behind closed doors between these two teams. All we know is that when the puck is dropped tonight at the Garden, the scouts will have a notebook in one hand, pencil in the other and will have their eyes glued on the opposing team.