Around this time yesterday morning, Bob McKenzie was asked if the Rangers should be buyers or sellers at the deadline. His answer was what you’d expect:
Within reason, judiciously sell. But let’s be honest, a NYR team that sits in a playoff spot can’t go the fire sale route. I don’t believe the market, or the owner, would approve: https://t.co/bcaCphmDKJ
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 11, 2018
This should come as no surprise to you, if you’ve been paying attention to the current situation of the team. The Blueshirts are a bubble team, where a shrewd few moves –and a few ballsy roster decisions– could turn them into a legitimate contender. Knowing James Dolan, that’s probably the route they will take.
Addressing Dolan’s likely preferred approach first, it makes sense on the macro level. In today’s NHL, a team needs to be “somewhat good” and then get a big swing in puck luck –i.e.: get hot– during the playoffs to make a run. With Henrik Lundqvist in net and the Blueshirts’ style of play and skill level, that’s not out of the realm of possibility.
That said, buying at the deadline is not the right move for the Rangers, and McKenzie hit the nail on the head, as per usual. The Blueshirts have had a hole at center all year, one that cannot be filled by David Desharnais or Paul Carey, despite how great those stories are this year. If Kevin Hayes is the shutdown 3C, then the Rangers need an offensive minded 2C, and neither of those guys fit the bill. That’s the first hole.
The second hole is one created by the Chris Kreider injury. His shoes are near impossible to fill, as there are maybe a handful of players in the league that have his combination of size, speed, strength, and skill. Now, instead of just needing a 2C, which can be had, they need a pair of top-six forwards.
The third hole is a coach/GM created hole, where the Rangers are playing a less than optimal defensive group. Part of that is on Jeff Gorton, who didn’t put coach Alain Vigneault in a situation where he had to play one of the kids. The other part is on Vigneault, who for some reason still views Nick Holden as a top pairing defenseman, despite spending good money on a guy who can fit that bill if given time with Ryan McDonagh.
And yes, a part of this is on the players for playing so poorly. And a part of this is on the system for being predictable and easily countered. Long story short, there’s more than one reason why the Rangers bleed quality chances.
So that brings us back to the “judiciously sell” comments. The Rangers have three intriguing rentals that could fetch a good amount in trades. Rick Nash, if the Rangers retain salary (I see no reason why they wouldn’t), should fetch a first rounder at a minimum. Michael Grabner’s amazing run of goals means he will likely fetch the same. Holden should be able to fetch something as well, since he’s a “top pairing defenseman” in New York.
Considering the relatively barren wasteland that is the Rangers’ system, a sell-off and re-tooling is the most logical approach. It worked for the Yankees, who sold off veterans, re-built the farm, and then actually made the playoffs the following year. They committed to the kids, and it worked. The Blueshirts have, at the very least, a pair of kids (likely more) who could feasibly make the jump next year. Why not give them a chance?
The only thing that would get in their way would be their reluctance and stubbornness in forcing a playoff appearance. After all, they’ve missed the playoffs just once since The Lockout, Part 2TM. If the goal is to make more money, expect the Blueshirts to be buyers. If the long-term future is the focus, the Rangers should be sellers."Addressing Bob McKenzie's "judiciously sell" comments",