Contrary to the prevailing thought that has seemed to permeate throughout Rangers social media before the All-Star break, the Rangers must be buyers at the deadline. Granted, the Rangers didn’t inspire any kind of hope with their dismal performance on the west coast and at home against Vegas, but it doesn’t change what needs to happen.
We all know this team doesn’t have a true 1RW or a 3C, exposing some pretty significant depth issues. Chris Drury and his staff will have their work cut out for them if he hopes to make the Rangers a true Stanley Cup contender in a the wide open Eastern Conference this year. The center is the biggest need, of course.
Fans have been arguing for the last two weeks in the midst of the Blueshirts slide that Drury should stay the course and not look to fix any of this teams issues by giving up significant assets. But that would be completely against what the Rangers have been doing the past 18 months.
We’ve seen Drury fire Gerard Gallant and bring in Peter Laviolette. passing over first time NHL head coaches such as his in house replacement Kris Knoblouch. Bringing in Laviolette was a signal to everyone of the Rangers intentions for this year and next. That is competing for a championship.
So the idea of not going all in at the deadline is absolutely a no fly zone for this organization. The Rangers still have the chips that appear to be blocked on the depth charts –Zac Jones, Matthew Robertson– to make a move or two that reinforces the Rangers as a true Stanley Cup contender.
Now, the only question remaining is what will Drury’s plan of attack be for going all in this year? In this humble man’s opinion there’s only one real course of action and that’s replicating his plan of attack two years ago when he added Andrew Copp, Tyler Motte, and Justin Braun without surrendering anything of real consequence.
This year however, it might be easier said than done because teams know Drury is dealing from spot of weakness, unlike two years ago. Especially considering the fact that two centers the Blueshirts had already been linked to are already off the board for a pretty high cost.
We know that they’ve been linked to Adam Henrique for quite some time and he’ll definitely help the bottom six and depth scoring, but he won’t address all of their needs. There’s prevailing thoughts about adding Frank Vatrano along with Henrique as a quasi blockbuster deal of sorts, but that doesn’t necessarily move the needle of this roster all that much.
Drury has shown proclivity in adding players he liked more than once, as seen with Tyler Motte. That option doesn’t appear to be there this year so Drury will have to look elsewhere. One option to fix the 1RW situation is acquiring old friend Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko has already shown an ability to be able to mesh with Zibanejad and Kreider and would absolutely plug the hole on the top line. This would shift Blake Wheeler out of the lineup, or at least in a rotation with Kaapo Kakko on the third line.
Whatever way Drury goes, if it’s acquiring Henrique and Vatrano as a package or acquiring Henrique solo and adding Tarasenko as a bonafide RW sniper, it’s clear as day a move must be made. The Rangers are a good team and should be a Stanley Cup favorite, but unless there’s a serious addition made, this team won’t be able to win a Cup.