Is this the year for the Rangers to make a splash?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Heading into this season, the Rangers were one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. They just added Rick Nash at the expense of two bottom-six players. They have a top-six that, when producing, is one of the best top-six in the league. They have one of the best young defenses in the league. But most importantly, they have the All-World Vezina goalie capable of stealing games that teams need to make a run at the Cup.

Fast forward to today, and the Rangers are barely clinging to the eighth spot in the East, and a Division title is impossible. At this moment, home ice would be a stretch. In a season where they could afford to have one or two things go wrong, almost everything has gone wrong. Two of their star players aren’t producing. They have been bitten by the injury bug, which exposed the extreme lack of depth. Their bottom-six not only isn’t producing, but isn’t making the team tough to play against. But despite all that, the Rangers are still holding on to that eighth spot, and are still likely to make the playoffs (55.3% chance as of today, per SportsClubStats).

If/When the Rangers make the playoffs, they are a team that could be dangerous, if only for their All-World netminder. This is a club that is shooting well below their career averages, and that will eventually work its way back to the mean. A 48 game schedule is not enough time for it to all work out, but the stats suggest that the Rangers will eventually get hot and work that shooting percentage back to the mean. But the big question is this: Is an eighth seed and the possibility of catching fire worth enough to make a splash at the trade deadline?

A splash doesn’t necessarily have to be a big name player. The Rangers have quite a few of those. Where the Rangers need to make their splash is with their bottom six players, specifically that fourth line. Is now the time to sacrifice a prospect and another pick to get that pesky veteran who will work the boards and go to the areas that the Rangers seem unwilling to go?

Those guys are available, but there are so many teams in the hunt that the prices are fluctuating. Douglass Murray fetched San Jose not one, but two second round picks. Murray has pedigree, but this season has been an unmitigated disaster for him. The Penguins also sent a very good prospect to Dallas for Brendan Morrow, but sent two mediocre prospects and a late-first round pick to Calgary for Jarome Iginla. While the Iginla trade may be a one-off as Calgary had to acquiesce to his demands, the prices for Murray and Morrow were astronomical considering who the Penguins were acquiring.

The Penguins are the only team to really make a deadline splash at the moment, but it’s also coincidental that they acquired pieces that the Rangers would also be looking to acquire. These trades actually make it easy to evaluate what the Rangers would have needed to give up to land a third line scorer (Morrow) or a depth defenseman (Murray). To put these trades in Ranger terms, you’re looking at a Christian Thomas or Michael St. Croix, plus two second round picks, for Morrow and Murray.

The Penguins are clearly going all in on this year, capitalizing on a weak Eastern Conference that appears to be between them and the Bruins. The Rangers are a team that clearly has some holes, but the holes are easily filled by a combination of roster players producing and picking up some depth. It’s an interesting crossroads for this club. Their window to win is closing, but this year may not be the best year to go all-in.

27 Responses to “Is this the year for the Rangers to make a splash?”

  1. Doctor Col says:

    Whatever it takes to bolster the team and make it harder to play against, more efficient with possession and improve the scoring has to be done…it’s getting harder to watch this team slide.

  2. Bloomer says:

    Sather will make a hockey trade. He will want to make a move that will help the team now in the future and at the same time reduce payroll. He has to dangle Gabs to do it.

    • Dave says:

      Bloomer, this was the perfect comment. Slats will do what is best for the team, and trade who he needs to if it benefits the team in the present and future.

    • JoeP199 says:

      That’s if he’s well enough recovered from his surgery to be able to wheel and deal.

  3. Bloomer says:

    BTW I agree with the above, if the Rangers do make the playoffs, they very much could be spoilers as they are a dangerous team when hitting on all cylinders.

    • VinceR says:

      With you on this Bloomer. It’s not just about this season, which is why the knee jerk blame game short term reactions make no sense.

      If he can improve the team he will, but it will not be a rash decision that only helps them between now and late April. They have been working towards something and got close last year…they picked up an important piece by giving up other pieces, and a lot of them. It hasn’t worked out so far, it doesn’t mean it will not. And it might just take a bit of tweaking, but there is no reason to blow the entire thing up.

      And with that said, if this team is clicking, they can be spoilers this season too.

    • david goldstein says:

      yeah right and if my mom had you know what she would be my dad

  4. Tim B says:

    What are your takes on: Duchene, Parenteau, St Louis and Prospal?

  5. ranger17 says:

    Thomas and 4th for Clowe or 3rd if need be
    Boyle Powe 2ed and 3rd and St Croix and another pick for Ott Stafford or Myers
    We coulf use Myers and or Ott Stafford is still young and can bounce back and the Sabres don’t want much for him Ott would fit any team as would Neil . In the best of worlds would love to have Subban We have the worst bottom 6 in the league right now . I watch 2 to 3 games a night on Center ice and it is amazing what a goal from the 4th line does to the rest of the team .only 2 goals have been actually scored by a player on the 4th line in a game this year both by Ashem Boyle was on 3rd line Pyatt was on 1st and 2ed lines at the time they scored Halpern Powe and Newbury 0 goals should have at least scored one by mistake at some point or by accident you would think

    • Chris F says:

      I was actually pretty happy with that 4th line last night of Ashem, Newbury and Pyatt. They looked tough, and dangerous.

  6. ranger17 says:

    From leading the league in majors to this is unreal no snarl on this team ‘nobody to make a hit to wake up the sleeping dead . Frustrated to no end with this group . Came into this year thinking we had a shot at the Cup . Still think if we can somehow get to 6th place we have a shot and doing something . How long can Gabby and BR olay this way. 7th would give us Boston or Montreal 6th would give ue SE winner 8th would give us Ottawa . So if we can make a push and get to 6th we have a shot at doing something .2ed round is a crap shoot who you would play . Just need to look at last years finals , do you really think the 2 best teams in the NHL played for the Cup.Ranger fan since 1949 so i know what frustration is , but this year is more frustrating then any i can remember with the team we have on paper .Keep the faith and push for 6th LGR

  7. ranger17 says:

    Parenteau and St Louis are not available and Prospel is not the answer Now if we trade Gabby i would want back any of E Kane Buff Or Subban .I could see us trading with the jets E Kane wants out of the Peg dosen’t like the city or the people Subban i don’t know Montreal didn’t like the holdout this year but they love him and the way he plays .Whitney from Edm can be haollege kid dow with out the C for a 3rd or 4th better then the Hammer but i think we are at 49 contracts as of now without the College kid

  8. Chris F says:

    Dave,

    We know what pieces the Rangers would be looking for, a bottom-6 with some snarl who can score, and a puck moving defenseman.

    Now, which actual players fit that mold that are available? Who do you see the Rangers targeting for a trade?

    • Dave says:

      It’s tough to really gauge this right now. So few players are actually available. Only Florida, Philly, TB, Colorado, and Calgary are identified sellers.

      • Walt says:

        Dave

        For all practical purposes, the Flyers are out of the mix, no way they would trade to help us, no way!!!!

        • Dave says:

          We traded with them in the firesale of 2004. It’s unlikely, but it wouldn’t be a first.

    • Michelle says:

      Gabby and a pick for Clowe and Boyle? Could that ever happen?

  9. ranger17 says:

    Our biggest problem is the 3rd and 4th lines need the to give us energy when needed 3rd line to kick in a goal at least every 3rd or 4th game and the 4th line just energy and good D

    • Walt says:

      The team’s problem isn’t the 3rd line, or the 4th line, it’s lack of desire to play for this Torts fellow! I don’t care what anyone says, no one wants to be put down publicly, and Torts did that on TV, that is when he lost this team. Call me crazy, but my gut tells me that!!

  10. Bloomer says:

    I think Gabs would be a good fit in Detroit or Nashville. His career would probably be resurrected in Detroit, as they have an uncannily ability of getting the most from mature players. In return both Detroit and Nashville have many 2nd or 3rd line players that could become available. Toss in a prospect and draft pick and you have a trade that helps both Rangers and their trading partners.

  11. Rob says:

    Sorry guys but this team needs more then one or two pieces to solve this puzzle. I know if it’s not now, when? Especially with Hank’s age and all, but we gotta stick with the game plan since 04-05. Youth, youth and more youth! Remember that we gave up a First rounder last year for Nash too.

  12. Alex says:

    With the way we are playing right now, we’d get maybe a game or two just because of Lundqvist. I’d relish the chance to face the Rangers. The Islanders? Not so much.

    I recommend all the “execution” and Torts apologists folks on here to go read the rant that Hockey Rodent had today about our team. He’s completely spot on, and obliterates Torts and the current state of the team.

    Our PP is complete garbage despite adding more talent. Teams have easily figured out how to deal with our “offense,” block the slot, and just push us to the half-boards. essentially if we let up a goal, the game is done, because we do not create chances to even have a chance to mount a comeback.

  13. tomb says:

    lets see them beat anybody besides Boston and Philly. It just aint happening with this heartless bunch this year.

    Save your money, this team only has 3 cylinders.

  14. Yakov says:

    In short, no Prust (Dubi, Anisimov) — no Cup

  15. Rich M. says:

    I’ve been a fan of this team since the 1960-’61 season, so I’ve seen a LOT in those years. While this short season is bogus IMHO anyway (it never should have been played,) I have to say that I never bought into the “Rangers are Cup favorites” nonsense at all.

    The above said, bottom line is this: the team is SOFT and plays that way. When Prust and Dubinsky were shipped-out, so went the grit and toughness too. No one is willing to stick their nose in the corner or in front of the net to get their jerseys dirty except the Captain. Girardi looks tired (he has a right to be) and he rarely if ever hits the net with a shot.

    Boyle has regressed from a career year. Richards has been a huge disappointment productivity-wise. The PK hasn’t been nearly as consistent as it was last year and has wilted badly over the past seven games. The PP is an embarrassment, plain and simple. The last time we had a power play that was feared was when Nylander was feeding Jagr for those blasts from the circle so very long ago. And while I think that Tortorella is a terrific HC, the blame has to fall on him, Sullivan, Sather and the organization for not having corrected the problem by now.

    Face it, bigger, more talented teams come into MSG and push them around at will Lucic takes a shot at Nash – who sticks-up for him? – no one. Neil pushes Stralman’s head into the top of the net not once but FOUR OR FIVE TIMES! Does anyone intervene to stop him? Nope. These guys won’t put out for each other like they did a year ago and the results are telling.

    Finally, there’s my current whipping boy – Gaborik. He’s being paid a LOT of coin to score goals and he’s not producing nearly what they expect from a star who should be carrying so much more of the load than he has. Either he is hurt again or has lost his focus because he avoids ALL contact and rarely puts himself in a position to get the tip-ins and rebounds that he has made a living on before this season. I’m tired of watching him skate around, failing all too often to handle a pass or get off na clean shot. And I’ll scream if I ever see him in another shootout. MOVE HIM!

    Get Ott in here, he’s Avery with a bit more skill and won’t take crap from anyone. And if the Sabres don’t want Pominville, throw him into a package and we’ll have a better PP. If Boyle wants to come here from SJ, see what it’ll take to toughen-up the back line and take some of the pressure off of Girardi, MDZ, McDonagh and hopefully Staal.

    Failing the above, forget this season and let the kids play and get more experience. The future HAS to offer more than this disappointing, underachieving bunch has nshown us.

  16. Orbie says:

    When a team signs 3 top offensive threats only to have a coach demand shoot and retreat and not attack attack is the reason this team is embarrassing!constant line changes and playing rope a dope hockey takes away all the talent of their skilled players! Plus, when was the last time you saw an opposing team play with their heads up afraid to get hit! Sorry, but the move is not sell the house but rid it of the tennants at the top!

    • Bobby G says:

      When has tortorella ever said “shoot and retreat”? Seriously, idk where you got thy one from.