Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed on their podcast last year how the Rangers tried to acquire the 4th overall pick in 2016 and select Clayton Keller.
Edmonton had the puck and had been discussing a potential deal with the Rangers but the deal appeared to fizzle after Columbus passed on Jesse Puljujarvi and he was available at four for the Oilers.
Marek said that the Rangers “really wanted Clayton Keller, like really wanted Clayton Keller and were pushing hard” to move up and pick him.
The Rangers did not have a first round pick in the 2016 and it’s unknown what a potential return for the Oilers would have been.
It was reported at the time that the Rangers tried to move up to four in a potential deal with the Oilers but could not make things work.
Larry Brooks writes on Saturday that the potential deal with the Oilers would have seen the Rangers send Ryan McDonagh to Edmonton in exchange for chance to take Keller at 4. (NY Post)
Brooks notes that the Rangers are believed to have had conversations with multiple teams about McDonagh that summer. (NY Post)
Adam Rotter: This is a hard potential trade to look back on because of where the Rangers were in 2016, where they are now and what they ended up trading McDonagh for. The Rangers were not in full tear-down mode at that point and McDonagh still seemed like he would remain captain for many years. Maybe a trade of McDonagh that summer kicks off the rebuild then and there but most of that team came back and if they could have defended leads better would have gone to the conference final for the third time in four years. It should also be noted that the Rangers thought McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk were going to be a long-term pairing when Shattenkirk signed.
In the end the Rangers did fairly well with what they got for McDonagh last year in Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, Nils Lundkvist and Tampa’s first or second this year. That deal also included JT Miller going to Tampa but Vlad Namestnikov coming back to the Rangers and the Rangers may be able to flip Namestnikov for some more assets.
Looking from the Edmonton side, McDonagh would have been a terrific addition but they wanted a right shot defenseman and we don’t know what else the Rangers were asking for. It’s hard to say Edmonton should have made the deal if the Rangers wanted #4, one of Ryan Nugent Hopkins/Darnell Nurse/Leon Draisaitl and their 2017 first round pick but a deal like that probably allows them to keep Taylor Hall. It’s a nice what if kind of discussion but the Oilers went in another direction and the GM who decided that was fired a few weeks ago.