With the NHL trade deadline only a few days away, The Rangers have sent scouts NHL wide and have had many visit the confines of MSG. Even a few General Managers have stopped by the last few weeks, mainly old Rangers assistant G.M. Don Maloney, Toronto G.M. , and St. Louis G.M. along with their scouts.
There is speculation all around the official NHL websites such as NHL.com, Rangers columnist Larry Brooks of The Post, and TSN along with the money makers like Eklind and Fourth Period amongst many others. So far this season, there have only been 11 teams that haven't made an "NHL Level" deal with the Rangers being one of those teams. The Rangers made a minor league deal this offseason to bring Joey Crabb back into the organization to provide AHL depth. The Rangers offseason signings of Lee Stempniak and Tanner Glass were solid 4th line additions. The key offseason signing was Kevin Hayes who filled the hole left by the "buy-out" of Brad Richards who didn't live up to the big caphit he was attached to. Matt Hunwick as a defensive depth player has played out well and he has done what he was brought in to do, play a solid game and not be noticed, a great thing for a depth defenseman. The offseason signings of Ryan Malone (who has since left hockey) and Matt Lombardi (who left to play overseas) didn't work out for either side but were brought in for depth which the Rangers are now looking for at the trade deadline.
The Rangers are up against the cap pretty close and they could add around $3mil. (full season salary) without having to deal any NHL cap back the other way to make a deal work. With so many scouts taking in games at the Garden and the Rangers sending out their scouts (the big wig Doug Riseborough has even gone on the road to St. Louis and Ottowa along with a few other cities) and those G.M.'s listed above being at the Garden and meeting with Rangers Brass it would be thought, there are many scenarios that can be thought of. There are the popular trades that you see from guys like Drren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, and even the Eklund site that have the Rangers looking to get players such as Santorelli, Bozak, Vermette, Hanzal, Winnik, and Sekera to name a few. Santorelli,Winnik, and Sekera have already been traded in which the popular concept is that the Rangers backed out when the price got too high which is a great move. Trading is clearly a strength of the Rangers organization over the last few years with the additions of Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Kevin Klein, and Derrick Brasard. Of course for players like that you have to give up something good but the Rangers are a well rounded team that just needs a little help to make it over the top and have another long run in the playoffs like last season, but hopefull one winning round better. Who would of thought that with Henik Lundqvist injured for a month that the Rangers would be in striking range of the #1 seed in the Eastern conference. Jesper Fast who was having a solid rookie year has also been out with a knee injury and both are now practicing and will be back shortly. The Rangers still need a tough dman to keep the other teams "honest" and still are in need of a faceoff man who can win important faceoffs on a regular basis. The Rangers are one of the top teams despite not being able to win faceoffs and having all the tough schenaniganze being taken care of by Tanner Glass, when he plays.
There are two players that can fill the two roles the Rangers need and the Rangers could trade mid level picks or mid level prospects to get as the two of them together could fit under what cap the Rangers already have. On the defensive and strength part it would be Ottowa's Eric Gryba. He is a huge man at 6'4" and like 220 lbs of pure strength. He is defensive dman--old time Ranger fans think of a Buekeboom type-- not much offense but would let Dan Boyle do his offensive part and protect him as Gryba isn't afraid to drop the gloves. This deal would also help as you wouldn't have to dress Glass every game and add Fast into the lineup as an big upgrade. The Faceoff man that would be a perfect fit would be from St. Louis via an earlier trade with Pittsburgh (who would never have traded him to Rangers) Marcel Goc. He would slot in as a 3rd line center/wing with Hayes but would take all the faceoffs since that his something he is very good at. Adding Goc would take Lee Stempniak out of the lineup and make the Rangers depth at forward as Stempniak and Glass. Don't forget that Anthony Duclair will be rejoining the Rangers for the playoffs once his JR season is over so the depth for offensive players will be there. If the Rangers keep all the defensemen and add Gryba, the depth would be John Moore and Matt Hunwick. Two little moves like that could make the Rangers the team to beat in the East again this season and help them retain their postseason title from last year as the Eastern Conference Champions.
Knowing how Gary Bettman works and seeing how the NHL network has a trade center show on dealine day March 2nd, it is very surprising that so many trades have been made before the show. Bettman is all about the money and I would think he would rather have thse deals on his show. I would also expect to se some contract extensions announced as those can be even better than a trade to some teams. so far this season, starting in the summer, the teams that have made their teams better by trades are clearly the Islanders with the addition of Boychuck and Leddy ; Penguins with Perron, Lapierre, and Winnik; and Winnipeg who transformed their team with the additions of Tlustly, Myers, Stafford, Harrison, Lemiuex, and Buffalo #1 pick while they shipped away their headache of Evander Kane, Bogosian and picks. Teams in the fire sale are the obvious Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs but expect Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, and Newark Devils(if they are smart) to put a sale sign up by Tuesday.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!!!