What Blake Wheeler's Injury Means for Rangers' Trade Deadline

The Rangers lost their top-line right wing for the season raising questions despite the team's current winning streak.
Jan 26, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler (17) celebrates
Jan 26, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler (17) celebrates / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

While the talk of the town on Monday will be the New York Rangers' win over the Islanders at the Stadium Series there are bigger storylines surrounding the Rangers.

The Blueshirts sit atop the Metro division with 75 points sitting just a point behind the Panthers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The team's seven-game win streak has quieted many of the doubts around the Rangers however, Blake Wheeler's season-ending injury suffered earlier in the week will leave the team with another need heading to the trade deadline.

Blake Wheeler was spending the majority of his time on the first line alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider with nine goals and 12 assists on the season. The Rangers were likely going to need to add a wing at the deadline to help the first line improve in 5-on-5 scoring which is now going to certainly be addressed.

The injury of Filip Chytil gave the Rangers a major boost in terms of cap space heading into the deadline. The same can't be said for Blake Wheeler as the veteran carries a salary of just $800,000 meaning the team will find it hard to find a replacement at his price tag.

The team called up Matt Rempe after the injury to Wheeler with the forward providing little impact outside of exciting the crowd with a fight in his first shift.

The Rangers have been linked to several wingers that may be available in this market as the deadline slowly approaches. The team has had scouts watching the Wild, Sharks, Flames, and Kraken over the past week. The Sharks could provide the Rangers with a reunion with former winger Anthony Duclair or the services of veteran Jordan Eberle. The Flames' biggest targets are on the back end however, Anthony Mangiapane could be a target if the Flames are willing to retain some of his salary.

Who's the First Line Winger for the New York Rangers After the Deadline?

Heading into the deadline the team will need to add a scoring right wing to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider rather than addressing depth center. The fan-favorite answer will be former Ranger Frank Vatrano, however, his asking price may be too much for Chris Drury as the team tries to hold onto its first-round pick. The team could mix in Kaapo Kakko and Jimmy Vesey to see if either provide the line with a boost but, both have played well on their respective lines meaning an addition may be the best choice. The most likely fit is Anthony Duclair who's numbers don't look great while playing on the Sharks, but his speed and scoring ability would fit well with the play style of the top unit.

More Rangers news and rumors: