By Joe Soccoa
We have come to the point in time where we are talking about the coveted trading deadline. We can of course enjoy a few days off with the All-Star break but this is also the crunch time for teams getting serious for playoff contentions and runs.
The New York Rangers, who, at the break have an overall record of 31-17-1 (63 points) are one of those teams that should be deep into meetings on what the team needs to do for another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
This is a crucial year in many ways for teams as they look at the trading market. With an expansion draft taking place this coming summer, and players being unprotected in the draft, teams must decide who they believe will be expendable and who can’t be touched.
For the Rangers, this needs to be the year they go for it at the deadline and truly make a move to solidify a deep run once more. Let’s face it, Henrik Lundqvist is getting older and we have seen his game come away from him a few times this year but has somehow managed to get it back on track.
The core of this team is still somewhat intact but it’s a lot younger and faster which gives them the right recipe to go out and go for it.
Per capfriendly.com, the Rangers have $5.5 million in current cap space but will be able to add up to $10.1 million on deadline day. Certainly, more than enough to add a few pieces to make another significant run. Many would say it would be the wrong move because they may think the Rangers will give up a boat load to get a big return.
The Blueshirts do have some valuable trade chips with cap-friendly hits (Michael Grabner $1.6, Kevin Klein $2.6, Nick Holden $1.6, Kevin Hayes $2.6). They also have almost a full set of draft picks, finally. So, the Rangers are indeed in a great position to make a significant move without losing much.
If you look at the forwards on this current roster there are only two who are in their upper-twenties (Rick Nash 32, and Mats Zuccarello 29). The rest of the forward group are in their mid-20s and younger. Age is not the issue with the Rangers.
We all know the defense was a question mark heading into the season and it surprised us all when the Rangers started their season off hot. It then came crashing back to earth but it has still maintained the fact they have 31 wins thus far at the break. There isn’t much you can do with the top three defensemen (Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh) because they all have limited or no movement clauses. Relax,
Mac isn’t going anywhere.
When the season ends, the Rangers will only have six expiring contracts, all of which will be restricted free agents (Mika Zibanejad, Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, Matt Puempel, Oscar Lindberg and Adam Clendening). Based on cap friendly, the Rangers with the current salary cap, will have $9.8 million with those expiring contracts.
It’s not the end of the world for the Rangers and they would likely move a contract at the draft if need be.
Nonetheless, this needs to be a deadline in which the Rangers go out to solidify the defense and pick up another valuable forward who can help on the power play and put the puck in the back of the net and finally lead them to a Stanley Cup championship.
It must happen now.