Uniondale, NY — This has been a New York Rangers season where there has been very little adversity.
The Rangers’ .698 win percentage through 58 games is the team’s best start in 39 years, equalling the 1972-73 Blueshirts, who began the season with a 38-15-5 record (.698 win percentage). They are currently tied for the second-best start in franchise history.
The Rangers find themselves in unchartered waters heading into the trade deadline, as the Rangers – regardless of what transpires between then and now – will be in first place for the first time since 1994’s historic Stanley Cup triumph.
This is latest into a season the Rangers have been atop the Eastern Conference standings since the 1995-96 season.
In that season, the trading deadline was on March 20, but the Rangers made the forgettable Joe Kocur trade to the Vancouver Canucks for goaltender Kay Whitmore.
The 1993-94 season was a different story however, as then general manager Neil Smith made several big moves on deadline day that would help end the curse of 1940. They acquired Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan from the Chicago Blackhawks for Tony Amonte, shipped out Mike Gartner to Toronto for Glenn Anderson, and added the gritty Craig MacTavish for rookie Todd Marchant in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers.
None of the aforementioned players the Rangers added that year could be considered superstars. Only Noonan would make a solid contribution points-wise, collecting 11 points in 22 playoff games. Rather they are all role players.
This year, Ranger nation is abuzz with rumors of a trade for Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash. But given Glenn Sather’s post lockout track record, don’t count on it.
Since the lockout, Slat’s trade deadline moves have not been of the blockbuster variety. In 2005-06 for instance, he added Sandis Ozolinsh for a third round pick; the following year he added Jason Krog off waivers, as well as trading Aaron Ward for Paul Mara, then Pascal Dupuis for Alex Bourret. In the 2007-08 season, he packaged Marcel Hossa and Al Montaya for Phoenix’s David LeNeveu, Fredik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton, and in another move added Christian Backman for a 4th-round pick.
I could go on and on, but the point I am trying to make is Sather’s track record seems to be adding role players not superstars.
So the team that took the ice in tonight’s 239th meeting of the Islanders and Rangers is pretty much what you should see on Monday night against the New Jersey Devils, with maybe some minor tweaks.