Latest Blue Jackets & Rangers Speculation – September 18, 2017
Latest on Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray and the Rangers aren’t ruling out adding another center.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports defenseman Ryan Murray didn’t expect to return with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was the subject of trade speculation throughout the summer as part of a rumored offer for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.
Murray, whose role diminished last season from first-pairing blueliner to third-pairing rearguard, knows he has a lot to prove this season. That decline probably affected his trade value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche reportedly seek a young, established top-four defenseman with a left-handed shot. Prior to last season, that description would’ve suited Murray. The decline in his play explains the Avs’ apparent reluctance to acquire him as part of a package return for Duchene.
If Murray improves this season it will also boost his value in the trade market, though it remains to be seen if he ends up in Colorado. Other clubs could also come calling, though the Jackets could remain keen on using Murray as a trade chip to land Duchene.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Justin Tasch recently reported the New York Rangers will be trying out forward J.T. Miller at center. However, general manager Jeff Gorton isn’t ruling out adding another center.
Finding a good top-nine center won’t be easy at this point, especially with the Pittsburgh Penguins also in the market for a third-line center. The Rangers have around $3 million in salary-cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend on Miller’s performance. Mika Zibanejad is expected to center the first line, meaning Miller and Kevin Hayes will be centering the second and third lines. If Miller doesn’t pan out, Gorton could be forced into the trade market, though he could be waiting until later in the season, perhaps closer to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, to find a suitable center.