Maybe the San Jose Sharks should look to the New York Rangers once again for help?
Earlier this summer, the Sharks hired Mike Grier as their new GM. Grier was the Rangers’ Hockey Operations Adviser. Grier then tabbed David Quinn, New York’s head coach from 2018-21, to be San Jose’s new bench boss. Next, Grier plucked Rangers’ director of North American amateur scouting Chris Morehouse to be Sharks’ Director of Amateur Scouting.
How about continuing that theme by bringing Nils Lundkvist to the San Jose Sharks?
Last week, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that the Rangers were “engaged in an accelerated effort to trade Nils Lundkvist after being notified the 22-year-old Swedish defenseman is unlikely to report to camp in the absence of a deal.”
Lundkvist has two years left, $925K AAV, on his entry-level contract.
The 2018 first-round pick came into last season as one of the most-touted prospects in hockey, after winning the 2020-21 Borje Salming Trophy as Swedish defenseman of the year. But the offense-first blueliner put up just one goal and three assists in 25 NHL games before being overtaken by Braden Schneider for playing time. Lundkvist finished the season with the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack.
The right-hander is now blocked on the right side at the Garden by Schneider, 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, and captain Jacob Trouba.
“Seems like a really logical Sharks target right now,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “Good skating, puck-moving D who is just jammed with the Rangers.”
On the San Jose Sharks, only Erik Karlsson would clearly be ahead of Lundkvist on the right side of the defense. Matt Benning and Ryan Merkley are San Jose’s other righties.
The Sharks also have a gaping hole on their second power play unit: At the moment, Merkley, Markus Nutivaara, and Mario Ferraro are PP2’s most likely quarterback candidates.
“[Lundkvist] would be a good fit,” an NHL executive said. “Good player but has to put on some weight.”
There’s a reason why Lundkvist had trouble sticking in the Rangers’ line-up. According to Brooks, Lundkvist “is generously listed at 5-foot-10, 187 pounds.”
“He’s just okay defensively,” the scout opined. “I think the Rangers aren’t sold that he will produce enough offense to balance the D off.”
Of course, the Sharks already have Merkley. The fellow 2018 first-rounder is also an offensive-oriented rearguard who’s yet to prove himself at the NHL level. Industry consensus has Lundkvist ahead of Merkley, but who knows how San Jose sees it.
So what would Lundkvist cost the San Jose Sharks?
Per The Athletic: “Two sources said that the Rangers have been offered a second-round pick for Lundkvist, an offer that’s been on the table since Claude Lemieux, Lundkvist’s agent, requested a trade before the deadline in March. It’s believed to be a high-second rounder — it was likely for the June draft from a team at the bottom of last season’s standings — and the sources indicated the offer of a second for next year’s draft is still good.
“But Drury, as he was with Vitali Kravtsov, is not willing to let go of one of the Rangers’ top prospects for another lottery ticket just yet. That may change in two weeks when Lundkvist likely stays home, but for now, the Rangers are believed to be seeking a young player in return.”
Do the Sharks have a young player that the Rangers could be interested in? It could make sense for New York to add depth to a position of greater need in their system than right-hand defense.
It’s just a suggestion: But would center Thomas Bordeleau for Lundkvist be a fair trade in terms of value?
Alternatively, San Jose might offer their 2023 second-round pick, which promises to be high.
Anyway, between Grier and Morehouse, I’m sure they know Lundkvist well. I don’t know if the Sharks are actually interested, but there’s a potential fit here.
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