It’s hard to argue that the Rangers haven’t exceeded every expectation this season. While playoffs were certainly a possibility for this young squad, the Rangers currently sit in third place in the extremely competitive Metro Division and are only 4 points back of first place with two games in hand. This is due, in large part, to a breakout season for up-and-coming star goaltender Igor Shesterkin (who is currently getting Vezina Trophy buzz) and Chris Kreider, who is on the verge of a career season after already setting a career-high in goals. Adam Fox is living up to his Norris Trophy-winning campaign , and while Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere are still working their game into NHL shape, the Rangers are also blessed with better-than-.ppg seasons by Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. In short, the Rangers are a wagon for the first time in years. They have elite talent at all positions and look ready to not just make the playoffs, but contend for the Stanley Cup. GM Chris Drury is heading into his first trade deadline as the head honcho and is unlikely to stay quiet. His team’s success deserves to be rewarded. Here are two players Drury will be kicking tires on come March 21st.

Tomas Hertl

Reports that the Rangers are circling San Jose Sharks’ star Tomas Hertl have been brewing since the New Year, and they’re unlikely to quiet down any time soon. The Sharks are stuck outside of a playoff spot and have several teams with games in hand sitting between them and a Wildcard bid. The next month will be very telling as to what exactly San Jose’s position will be at the deadline, but there’s a good chance they will be selling once again. Unfortunately, that means pending UFA Tomas Hertl will be on the block, and considering he’s on pace for his best season since signing his current deal – valued at $5.625 million AAV – he’ll be looking for a raise, one the Sharks may not want to invest in. Here is where the Rangers fit in. Despite the stellar offensive production by the aforementioned stars, there is a lack of secondary scoring in the Rangers. Currently playing at 1RW, Alexis Lafreniere has 10 goals and just 13 points so far this season. Adding Hertl into the mix in the top 6 would blow the doors open for the Rangers’ offence.

J.T. Miller

Similar to with Hertl, there has been buzz surrounding a reunion between the Rangers and J.T. Miller. The Rangers selected Miller 15th overall in 2011, and he played the better part of 6 seasons in New York before getting moved to Tampa Bay along with Ryan McDonagh. A few years later Miller was shipped off to Vancouver, where he is now staring down the barrel of unrestricted free agency in 2023. The Canucks appear to be open to trading Miller, but the return will need to be significant. The Rangers, meanwhile, are so active in seeking a top 6 centre because of Ryan Strome’s pending contract negotiations, which may lift him out of the Rangers’ price range. Given Miller still has a year left on his deal after this one, he fits the bill for replacing Strome; he only makes $5.25 million on his current deal, and has tallied 14 more points than Strome in 4 more games played. While traditionally a LW, Miller stepped up in the absence of Elias Pettersson as Vancouver’s top centre and thrived in the role. Seeing this, the Rangers understandably envisioned Miller taking over duties on their second line and liked the idea. Maybe there’s a deal here to bring J.T. back home to New York.

Photo credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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