When Rangers winger Michael Grabner was an unrestricted free agent back on July 1, 2016, the Boston Bruins were a team that expressed serious interest in him before he was signed by the New York Rangers on the opening day of free agency. Multiple NHL sources have confirmed to Murphy’s Hockey Law this past week that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has once again expressed interest in Grabner who leads the Blueshirts with 22 goals this season and is one of the hot names on the NHL trade rumor wire. Grabner would come with a pro-rated cap hit of $1.65 million.
According to one of the sources, Sweeney has however – as he has to every team – made it clear that prized youngsters such as defenseman Charlie McAvoy as well as forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen are untouchables. Of course it goes without saying that the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak, forward David Krejci, captain Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask fall into the same category as well. You could probably throw in veteran forward David Backes as well right now with the season he’s having.
What’s interesting though is that the source did not include second-year defenseman Brandon Carlo, who last season at this time fell under that untouchable category. Carlo got hit by the sophomore jinx for the first half of the season but recently has looked more like the confident rookie rearguard of last season.
The day after their team’s embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at home and on NBC Rivalry Night Wednesday night, Rangers President Glen Sather and General manager Jeff Gorton released a letter to Rangers fans confirming what New York Post hockey scribe Larry Brooks reported January 26 that they are indeed going to rebuild and that their roster could look very different after the February 26 trade deadline. Forward Rick Nash has already submitted his no-trade list to management and it’s widely reported that forward Mats Zucarello – who leads the team in points with 39- could be had for the right price.
A key name that has surfaced in the last two weeks is defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Sweeney has long coveted another high caliber defenseman that could have an immediate impact and ease the blow for when his Peter Pan, Chara, finally retires. Chara and the Bruins have already discussed an extension so that likely doesn’t happen until at least 2019, but the 28 year old McDonagh – who has one year left with a $4.7 million cap hit – would be the perfect successor.
The asking price for McDonagh would clearly include players on Sweeney’s aforementioned untouchable list, so this is surely something that wouldn’t happen at the deadline, but it’s at least worth exploring to see what the cost could be at the NHL Draft in late June. For now though, Grabner is the player the Bruins have targeted on long list of Rangers that could move by the deadline.