NEW YORK – Tis’ the season to be traded unless you are the New York Rangers in which case there is little room to do much. There are questions indeed for the Rangers despite their 7-2-1 record in the last 10 games. Keith Yandle is apparently staying, that according to the team who had made him available up until a few days ago. So what are the Rangers needs?
As mentioned, there isn’t much room for the Rangers to maneuver. According to GeneralFanager.com, the new “cap geek” site, the Rangers will have approximately $4.8 million to add-on come Monday’s deadline. Not much but something.
The Blueshirts head coach Alain Vigneault has stated that his team is looking to add one or two players within the next few days.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking source stated that “There isn’t much really room to do anything”. So which is it?
If you know anything about the Rangers you know they are always an active team come deadline day. Especially when you have Glen Sather still in the picture. No, he won’t be making the calls, that’s Jeff Gorton’s job these days but if you know Slats he won’t be sitting on his hands.
There are several contracts ending this year. Most are restricted free agents (JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider) and some unrestricted (Viktor Stalberg, Dom Moore) so they’ll have to manage themselves carefully. Even though management have stated they are not moving Yandle, if they don’t trade him they risk having him leave this summer via free agency and getting nothing in return.
There are several rumors in media circles surrounding the future of Chris Kreider. The 24-year-old hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations he had coming into the season.
The coaching staff may give Kreider the “Kevin Hayes” treatment (sitting him a game or two to reassess what he needs to do to help the team). It helped Hayes as he has recorded a point in three of the last five games.
Kreider, is an intriguing piece of the puzzle because he has the talent, but like many others may just need a change of scenery. He could command a decent return with a $2.4 million cap hit.
Two other noticeable RFAs are Miller and Hayes. Miller has stepped his game up significantly since a start that had him just two goals in 15 games. He has eight goals in his last 15 games and has recorded at least one point in nine of those 15. He is a guy the Rangers would want to retain.
Hayes, on the other hand, has had his share of criticism from his head coach, including the benching two straight games and numerous call-outs for his lack of performance. He too has turned it on as of late but that could be something of value. Hayes has a big hockey body (6’5″ 227lbs) and goes strong to the net. It seems with his run-ins with his coach, the Rangers may be more willing to put him in a trade package to help deepen the team.
Looking at the blue line with Yandle staying put, it’s highly unlikely the Rangers won’t move anyone from their current roster. There is a better chance of that happening at the draft since all but two d-men (Yandle, Kevin Klein) have no trade or movement clauses (Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Dan Boyle).
What needs are the Rangers looking to fill? That is a loaded question. We’ve seen the flaws through that two-plus month hiccup during the holidays in which the defensive play collapsed on a daily basis and their franchise goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, couldn’t hold a lead. Most games were not on The “King” but the team needs to address this issue now.
The “wish list” may include a little more stability on the bottom lines such as a player who can contribute on the struggling penalty-killing unit.
The other item they’d want is a top-six forward that can help put the puck in the back of the net especially come playoff time when Rick Nash seems to disappear.
The best thing that could happen by Monday’s deadline is that the Rangers get healthy. They are expected to have their captain McDonagh (jaw/neck spasm) back on their upcoming road trip that starts in St. Louis tomorrow as well as Marc Staal, who “tweaked” his body during practice. The other healthy piece who went from day-to-day to week-to-week is Rick Nash (leg) needs to be back on the ice as soon as possible.
For the most part, the Rangers have picked up the slack with some key players out but they can only hold for so long. With a tightly packed division and conference, it will be tough down the stretch so a change should be made. The factor to be on the look for is the teams around the Rangers and if they upgrade, then it will somewhat force the Rangers to make a move.
It’s an uneasy time for players right now because come Monday they could be playing in a new place. It may be the case for the likes of Kreider or maybe Hayes, but we’ll know the answer to these questions at 3:01 EST on Monday.