It's likely that Jeff Gorton is going to at least try to make some moves this weekend at the NHL draft, but it remains to be seen what he actually accomplishes. With John Davidson now firmly in place as President of the New York Rangers, and the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Gorton is well placed to adjust the direction of the rebuild.
Part of the decision making process will be looking at some of the existing players, and determining whether to make some addiitonal moves in order to set the team up for not only the coming season, but beyond.
One of those players is winger Jimmy Vesey, who after three years, appears to have reached somewhat of a plateau with the Rangers. At 26 years of age, he's hardly a has-been, but with one year remaiining on his contract, and his play slotting him as a tweener between the second and third lines, he might be a guy that you move in order to free up playing time for the likes of Vitali Kravtsov, Filip Chytil and perhaps Karpo Kakko, if the Devils decide to go with the concensus and pick Jack Hughes #1 on Friday.
if the Devils do in fact pick Kakko, then perhaps the calculations change and they look at the center position and try to move someone like Vladimir Namestnikov, but let's stick with our hypothesis for a moment.
Now on the surface, the Rangers look like they have some depth on the Wing, but the reality may be a little different, depending on how you view the likes of Vladimir Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson and Boo Nieves.
Looking at the roster right now, New York has Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, Ryan Strome, Jimmy Vesey and Chytil as the only signed wings - assuming of course they continue to play Chytil on the wing. They also have Pavel Buchnevich and Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri as RFAs, along with Conor Brickley, who will be a UFA.
Down in the minors, the ranks are pretty thin, with Matt Beleskey, Ville Meskanen, Ty Ronning, Ryan Gropp, Dawson Leedahl, Gabriel Fontaine, Timothy Gettinger and Steve Fogarty as the next in line. Not a lot of NHL talent is expected to come out of that batch.
There are a handful of UFAs out there as well, though competition is likely to be fierce for the few sub-32 year olds that have some value. If the Rangers do in fact go this route, likely you'll be looking at one-year deals for guys who are more borderline or depth players, than top-liners like Artemi Panarin or to a lesser extent Gustav Nyquist.
As it stands right now, the Rangers finished in the bottom third in terms of scoring with only eight teams registering fewer than the 227 they racked up with a largely patchwork line-up. It wasn't wholly unexpected, given that they dealt the likes of J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner and Rick Nash in 2017-18, and followed that up with Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello this past year.
Sending off guys like Kreider (28), Buchnevich (21), or even Vesey (18), might weaken an already suspect part of the team. Obvioulsy the hope is that guys like Chytil and Howden can progress, as welll as getting some spark from the rookies. The league median point last year was 245, so that's about one extra goal every five games, plus the 25 or so they lost with the trades of Hayes and Zuccarello.
Obviously it's not ideal wth Kreider entering the last season of his contract before free agency and a potential big increase, and yes, he's still yet to break the 30 goal mark, but the Rangers will still need to find ways to score and he can certainly do that when he's hitting his stride.
For his part, Buchnevich has yet to find his consistency, though perhaps he'll both be helped and help a guy like Kravtsov, who needs to make the transition from Russia to North America.
Which of course leaves Vesey, the tweener guy who has moderately improved over his three years, but at 26 is perhaps not going to breakout unless he plays in a different system, with different responsibilities and players around him. Perhaps he's not good enough to fit in with the current line-up, and would only provide a little support while the young guys establish themselves.
And perhaps you can find a veteran or two for the third/fourth lines, who can help strengthen the defense and provide some leadership in the room. Perhaps then, with Kakko added and a veteran or two lined up, the Rangers can realistically trade a guy like Vesey.