NEW YORK, NY – Now that I’m back from my work trip to the modern adult playground in the ancient desert that is Dubai, I can get back to focusing on hockey. And it looks like I came home just in time. Dubai was fun but I’m happy to be home following hockey. The Rangers approach Monday’s trade deadline in a solid second place in the Metropolitan Division, with have no chance of catching the Washington Capitals. The Caps have already clinched the President’s Trophy for this season and next. But there’s still plenty to play, especially with NHL Playoffs and NHL Trade Deadline looming.
The Eastern Conference is so average that it seems like everyone has a shot at making the playoffs. The Habs, in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, are only five points behind the Penguins of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the last wild card. The Rangers will need to win a lot of games down the stretch to avoid being caught by the charging pack.
There are plenty of issues the Rangers need to address before Monday’s trade deadline. The Blueshirts’ special teams have been abysmal this season. The penalty kill ranks 27th in the league (they gave up another power play goal last night in St. Louis), and the power play ranks 22nd in the NHL. With Rick Nash on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a bone bruise to his leg, the Rangers need a two-way player that can slot into both the power play and special teams units.
Loui Eriksson on Cheesy’s Bruins has been named as a possible Rangers acquisition. Eric Staal, brother of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal has also been named. Staal may be the better player of the two but his massive salary cap hit would make it almost impossible for the Rangers to deal for him. Staal also doesn’t quite have the speed that Blueshirts head coach Alain Vigneault cherishes.
Eriksson would be a better fit. But the Blueshirts would probably have to give up a lot to get him. In the past with Glen Sather as GM, NY has been all too eager to trade away the future for a “win now” push for the Cup. They’ve traded away several top prospects and first-round picks to bolster the squad for a Cup run. Last year’s trade of Anthony Duclair and this year’s first round draft pick for Keith Yandle sent me into a deep depression. The depression only worsened when the Blueshirts fizzled out against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
Sather is no longer General Manager and it remains to be seen whether new GM Jeff Gorton (no, not Jeff Gordon) will be as willing to trade away the future. The Rangers are playing well right now, but consistency has been an issue. Keith Yandle and Chris Kreider have been trade fodder for months, but both players have been doing just enough to make the case for keeping them around. We’ll have a better idea of Gorton’s grand plans by Monday’s trade deadline. In the meantime, the Rangers travel to Dallas to take on the Stars tomorrow afternoon. And on Monday, former Rangers head coach John Tortorella returns to the Garden with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
That’s all for me. Come back tomorrow for man nobody wants in a trade, Junoir Blaber.