The New York Rangers made one significant move at the trading deadline and that was grabbing blueliner Brendan Smith. Many fans were hoping the Rangers would make a splash to improve their team in hopes of another Stanley Cup run. Just under twenty-four hours prior to the deadline, general manager Jeff Gorton had said he wasn’t going to pull the trigger on anything he didn’t seem fit to do so. That was the right answer.
The Blueshirts had roughly had around $10 million if deadline space to add contracts but Gorton stressed he wasn’t going to add just for the sake of adding. He also made it clear the market was teams overpaying to get what they want and Gorton wasn’t going to do that. He said everything right and did everything right.
Rangers fans (some) tend to be living outside the box a little too much as they fantasize what moves they would make to improve the team or what lineup changes they would do that would work. This isn’t the NHL video game where the virtual trade or lineup move would work. Everyone needs to realize that this New York Rangers team is young and fast, something they weren’t the last few years.
For most of these current Rangers, many of them are locked in for next season. Six Rangers (Mika Zibanejad, Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, Matt Puempel, Adam Clendening and Oscar Lindberg) are all restricted free-agents. Two out of those six are likely to be retained by the Rangers. Point is this team is a very good team. They still have Henrik Lundqvist who is starting to get into his playoff mode and they have a reliable back-up if need be in Antti Raanta. There is only 5 players over the age of 30 years old (Rick Nash, Tanner Glass, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein) so age isn’t the issue.
The blue line certainly will need to be revamped after this season but it has certainly come around as of late (just seven goals in four games given up). Their scoring has taken a hit as of late but hoping certain guys are starting to heat up that can get it going again. This was a team who at one point were scoring goals at a touchdown rate but has severely subsided. Their leading goals scorer Michael Grabner has been out with a hip injury thanks to teammate Adam Clendening putting a check on him in a practice. Many hope that won’t affect Grabner down the stretch and he can continue to build a career year.
The Rangers have showed their muscle since recalling Tanner Glass who seemed to have sparked this team up a bit after a few questionable stinkers against possible playoff opponents. They have been able to find their game style back and they certainly can beat any team when playoff time comes. There can be a terrific sixty-minute effort and yet you will still get the complaints from the Rangers faithful. Plain and simple, the Rangers are good enough to win, and are capable of going on a deep run. Would it be better if they were able to avoid Washington or Pittsburgh in the first round? Absolutely but it wouldn’t be the end of the world because the Rangers have been there and can beat those teams.
Instead of worrying about who they play, everyone should be happy with winning games, grabbing points and getting healthier as the playoffs inch closer. The Eastern Conference is a tight race for virtually one wild card spot but it is anyone’s game in the conference to come out of it and go to the Stanley Cup. The Rangers are capable of anything and a first round exit last year has put on chip on their shoulder no matter who they come out to play in round one. You just have to be confident and deal with the fact the Rangers are good and this is the team they will go into the playoffs with.