With one week to go until the NHL’s April 3 trade deadline, the possibility for a frenzy-filled flurry of activity seems to be waning.
With so many teams unsure of where they stand in the playoff hunt, the only true aggressive shoppers we see are the handful of clubs that are sure-fire locks with the attitude of going "all in" (see: Shero, Ray).
If that’s the case, there will only be a select group of clubs doggedly pursuing players to bolster their roster, teams like Pittsburgh (yes, STILL), Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Anahaeim, Vancouver etc.
The Rangers are not among this elite echelon.
Team president and general manager Glen Sather is never one too shy away from a bold move or the lure of some big-game hunting, but don’t be surprised if the Rangers stand pat, instead.
Although the Rangers had hoped that last summer's blockbuster acquisition Rick Nash would be the single piece to put them over the edge following last year’s march to the Eastern Conference finals, the Blueshirts do not appear to be primed for the same type of playoff run this season.
Sather has to know this.
Sure, there may be some depth moves and minor additions to address the middle-of-the-lineup needs, but there are not a ton of appealing big-ticket options that make sense right now.
Despite the team’s desire for a right-handed defenseman capable of playing in their top four -- a search that has been fruitless ever since it began, when young blue-liner Michael Sauer went down with a concussion last year -- the premium on puck-moving defenseman means a steep price tag.
A source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com last week that the Rangers remain interested in Sharks veteran Dan Boyle, though they appear unwilling to part with what GM Doug Wilson is asking for in return. And because of cap purposes, San Jose would like have to take Marian Gaborik back in the deal if the Rangers were to absorb Boyle’s $6.67 million cap hit for the rest of this year and next.
The Rangers also like 30-year-old winger Ryane Clowe, but so does pretty much every team in the East. Again, though, Wilson’s asking price may be prohibitive given the fact that Clowe is a rental who has yet to even tally his first goal this year. Even if New York was was willing to part with a top pick and/or prospect, the Rangers would only have 12-13 games in which to acclimate him to the team and system before the playoffs begin.
If the Rangers even make it.
As of Wednesday, New York is in 8th place with 35 points, two points behind 7th place New Jersey Devils with a game in hand.
The fact that their hold on the last playoff spot is as precarious as it is should be the driving force between Sather’s restraint next week.
The Rangers still have a tremendously strong group of core players and an impressive crop of young talent within the organization. The team is still finding its way, trying to create and assert an identity that last year was pretty much unassailable.
There remains a strong foundation moving forward, but the future seems brighter for the Rangers than the immediate test that lies ahead: a jam-packed playoff picture somewhat distorted from an atypical, lockout-shortened season.
Why give up future assets on a year that seems less than promising?
Perhaps a burst of activity next Wednesday will prompt Sather to make a move of his own, but, this year, it seems to make better sense to sit back and watch.