NHL Rumors: Rangers were a finalist for Zdeno Chara, Zach Werenski a trade chip, and Nolan Patrick needs a change

nhl free agents
Mar 3, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara (C) congratulates right wing T.J. Oshie (77) and center Nicklas Backstrom (19) after defeating the Boston Bruins in a shootout at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

When rumors surfaced that the New York Rangers were in on Zdeno Chara, I did not see the fit for a rebuilding team. It turns out that not only was Jeff Gorton interested in reuniting with Chara from his Boston days, but was a finalist in signing him.

Zdeno Chara considered the Rangers before signing with Capitals

According to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, Chara had the Blueshirts on his list of narrowed down choices.

[The Rangers] knew that last year when they attempted to bring the legendary Zdeno Chara, then 43 years old, to New York. There had been chatter at the time that the Blueshirts had checked in on the free agent as a matter of course when it became apparent he would not return to Boston. Due diligence and all that. But The Post has recently learned the Rangers’ effort went way beyond token interest. Indeed, a well-placed source reports that the club was a finalist in the derby, in the hunt until the last minute, when Chara decided he simply could not pass up the opportunity to go for another Cup in Washington.

NY POST

Brooks goes on to suggest the Rangers neophyte defense could use another veteran not named Jacob Trouba. I have also learned that part of the Blueshirts’ offseason plans will be to not only add a star center, but another veteran blue-liner to play in the starting six.

Columbus now looking to replace hole left by Pierre-Luc Dubois

zach werenski
charaApr 8, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) reacts as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) scores a goal in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Portzline of The Athletic speculated that if the Blue Jackets are going to replace PDL, they will likely need to do so via the draft. However, if there was a trade to be made it would need to start by offering Zach Werenski.

 The Blue Jackets may have to package top-pair defenseman Zach Werenski to make a trade of the magnitude. The top centers available via free agency are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton) and Phillip Danault (Montreal), but Nugent-Hopkins is ideally a No. 2 center (on a good team) and Danault is a middle-six guy. This might be a difficult year to attract free agents without grossly overpaying. My feeling: maybe there’s a trade out there for a top center, but it won’t happen without gutting another position on the roster. And can they really trade Werenski without knowing Seth Jones’ long-term plans? For me, the Blue Jackets are going to have to draft this guy.

The Athletic

Flyers Nolan Patrick needs a fresh start

Erik Duhatschek’s latest column looked at several players who could benefit from a change of scenery. The player that stood out like a sore thumb as needing it the most was Nolan Patrick of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Patrick went second in the 2017 NHL Draft and missed all of season No. 3 recovering from migraines, which derailed his development and left him almost at a point where he was starting over again in Philadelphia this past year. And while there’ve been flashes, they’ve been few and far between — only eight points in 43 games played, getting just about 13 minutes of ice time per night. His minus-20 rating is by far the worst among the team’s forwards. Patrick is still only 22. Maybe a change of scenery would benefit him. Vegas, a team that wanted to draft him that year, would be an interested suitor.

The Athletic

While the suggestion of the Golden Knights was made, Patrick would probably thrive on a rebuilding team like the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Red Wings.