As the trade deadline draws near one thing is for certain for the New York Rangers, they need scoring and they need it badly.
The Rangers have now dropped six straight and the offense has looked atrocious, averaging exactly two goals a game.
The team’s superstar, Marian Gaborik, has seemingly dropped off of the face of the earth. Gaborik hasn’t scored a goal since January 24th against the Washington Capitals. After scoring 42 goals last season, he has only scored 16 goals in the 43 games he has played this year which is far below average for the five-time 30 goal scorer.
The Rangers have been relying on players like Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust to bail them out offensively but now that well has dried up and the Rangers playoff hopes are starting to die of thirst.
So with the trade deadline just two and a half weeks away the Rangers will be looking to gear up for a playoff run. The Rangers were reportedly interested in Oilers defenseman, Sheldon Souray, and were ready to trade for him before a few of the Rangers scouts reported that Souray was “Too slow for the AHL much less for the NHL”. All talks of acquiring Souray have died down and now the Rangers will turn their focus to Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe.
Tomas Kaberle has been a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs for his entire 12 year career. Kaberle is not a flatout goal scorer from the blueline but he knows how to distribute the puck to his teammates. Kaberle averages 36 assists a season and is on pace for 49 assists this season. Kaberle has always been known as a powerplay quarterback but the one thing that drives Leafs fans up a wall when it comes to Kaberle is his hesitation to shoot the puck. Kaberle will most likely be on top of the Rangers shopping list over these next two weeks.
Bryan McCabe is the opposite of Tomas Kaberle, he has always been known for his ability to shoot the puck and to rack up large goal totals from the blueline. McCabe isn’t as much of an offensive threat like he was just a few years ago but he could still add quite a bit of offense to the team which, as I mentioned before, they need horribly.
The nice thing for the Rangers is the fact that both Kaberle and McCabe have contracts that expire this upcoming off-season. The Rangers will have about $15 million to spend this off-season with the current roster they have. The main problem for the Rangers is that they will need to re-sign three main pieces to their young core as Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Artem Anisimov all have expiring contracts and will be due for a raise.
The Rangers have recently shredded two big contracts off of the books (Rozsival and Redden) but they still have one bloated contract left and that would be the $7 million cap hit that Chris Drury carries. Chris Drury’s offense has evaporated completely and at this point of his career he is a third or fourth line player who is best suited for penalty-killing duty. The best thing for the Rangers to do is to buyout Drury’s contract this summer which would save them roughly $9 million of cap space over the next two years. Now the best case scenario is if Drury decides to retire this off-season which means they wouldn’t have to pay any of his contract on the cap, but it seems very unlikely that he will choose to do that.
Not only do the Rangers want to prepare themselves for the playoffs but they also need to look ahead to this off-season as they need to make sure that they can re-sign their young players and also have the ability to land a big fish in free agency, such as Brad Richards. The Rangers aren’t usually conservative at the trade deadline and Glen Sather is a wizard when it comes to making trades so I’m expecting him to make moves that benefit the team over the next few months of the season and that benefit them once the off-season rolls around.
The Rangers have been through hell and back over the last month and a half. A team that has notorious with being able to stay healthy over the past couple of years has been decimated by injuries this season. The Rangers have been without a huge portion of their roster for most of the season.
Here’s a quick rundown of the notable injuries the team has been forced to overcome:
Marian Gaborik– Injured October 15th, missed 12 games. Now its no surprise that Gaborik got injured but the team relies on Marian so heavily as when he is healthy there is no sniper that is quite as lethal.
Ryan Callahan – Injured December 15th, missed 19 games. Callahan broke his hand blocking a shot in mid-December against the Penguins. Callahan was the leading scorer at the time and of course Cally is a heart and soul player that the Rangers desperately need. He was finally able to return to the lineup on Tuesday, expect him to be a key piece to the Rangers stretch run puzzle.
Brandon Dubinsky- Injured…to be honest no one has a clue when he was injured. He played through a fracture in his leg for as long as he could but he eventually needed to be taken out of the lineup, he missed five games before returning on Tuesday.
Erik Christensen- Christensen has been out since December 30th with a strained MCL and is time on the injured list is coming to an end as he could be back in the lineup within the next week or so.
Ruslan Fedotenko- He was originally out of the lineup with a separated shoulder but now an appendectomy has him sidelined for another 3-4 weeks.
Vinny Prospal- Prospal has been out all year with complications from his surgically repaired right knee but he is now coming back into the lineup tonight against the Devils which is huge, especially for Marian Gaborik.
Now Callahan and Dubinsky were able to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Penguins and now they get Prospal back tonight. The team now sits in 7th place in the Eastern Conference with 62 points, only two points out of 5th place which with a win against the Devils tonight it would move them into a tie for 5th place in the East.
The Rangers are getting healthy at just the right time, we are now just 25 days from the NHL trade deadline. The Rangers also only have 29 games left in the regular season and they are going to need to get healthy and stay healthy to make a strong stretch run to the playoffs.
Now as for the NHL trade deadline, the Rangers are players every single year when the deadline rolls around and this year will be no different. The main piece that they will look to add will be the likes of Brad Richards from the Dallas Stars. This move seems to be unlikely because the Stars are 3rd in the West and I don’t see them moving one of their main offensive weapons at the trade deadline unless it’s for a huge return. The Rangers’ best bet is to wait until July when they can offer him a contract when he is unrestricted free agent, that is if he doesn’t re-sign with the Stars first.
Other names that the Rangers might pursue:
Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes. Cole has 13 goals, and 17 assists in 51 games this season. Cole would be a nice addition for the Rangers to add as he has plenty of experience in the playoffs including a Stanley Cup ring in 2006.
Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the Calgary Flames? No, it’s not that they suck. The first name that comes to mind is Jarome Iginla. Iggy has been the face of that franchise for the past decade and I’m sure the Rangers would love to add the superstar to their lineup. Iginla has scored at least 28 goals in the last 11 seasons and at least 30 for the last 9 seasons. If the Rangers are going to acquire any big name at the deadline then I except Iginla to be that big name.
Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This guy’s name has been involved in trade rumors for the past couple of seasons and now it seems as though it could finally happen and the Rangers could use a powerplay like himself. With Del Zotto having an off-year, the Rangers would really benefit from having a strong offensive defenseman at their disposal.
Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils. Now I don’t see a scenario where Parise gets traded to the Rangers but it is fun to entertain the idea. If the Rangers were to land Parise then it would give them a young superstar to pair with Gaborik and give the Rangers a lethal one-two punch.
As usual the trade deadline will be active and full of excitement. For all the coverage and breakdown of every deal and rumor make sure you check in right here at Atlantic Division Hockey.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Anisimov is having a solid sophomore campaign and he has been really successful with his new linemates, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. This trio is the only line that hasn’t been juggled by coach John Tortorella because of their success. Anisimov helped offensively while Marian Gaborik was out of the lineup with a dislocated shoulder. Anisimov will look to continue on his great start and hopefully become a top-line center for the Rangers.
Games Played: 23
Comments: I’m not sure why Rangers fans still love this guy so much, it truly baffles me. Avery has become less and less effective over the past few years and he is more of a pain to his own team than anything else. He’s a bad teammate, and he’s a bad hockey player, do I really need to say more?
Games Started: 7
Goals Against Average: 2.15
Save Percentage: .917%
Comments: Biron had a rough season last year as a member of the New York Islanders but the Rangers knew all along that they wanted him to be the backup for Henrik Lundqvist. Biron has been great in net and other than a beating by the Thrashers in October he has really looked good in every game. Biron is providing stability for the Rangers in-goal since Henrik Lundqvist has been shaky this season.
Games Played: 18
Penalty Minutes: 33
Comments: He scored his first goal in over four years….thats about the only positive thing Boogaard has done all season. Boogaard is getting paid $1.65 million a year to fight and he has done that but he isn’t worth the green that he receives, he’s also been a healthy scratch a few time already this season.
Games Played: 23
Comments: If someone would have told me that at the quarter mark of the season that Brian Boyle would have just as many goals as Alex Ovechkin I might have died from laughing so hard, but here we are and its a reality. I’m not trying to make fun of Brian Boyle, I like the guy, but he’s not the goal scoring type although he has always been a player that had the potential to do some great things. He’s on pace to score 30 goals, any Rangers fan will take that from Boyle.
Games Played: 22
Comments: Heart and soul player, future captain, the only name that can come to mind is Ryan Callahan. This guy has always flirted with becoming a good offensive player and this year. You can combine that with his hitting ability and willingness to block shots and you’re getting someone who is becoming a complete player.
Games Played: 22
Comments: Christensen was a waiver pickup last season and he was very helpful for the Rangers coming down the stretch. He re-signed with the Rangers and has been solid so far this season. He isn’t a big offensive contributor and he’s okay on defense and he can win face-offs. Nothing spectacular but a good third or fourth line center.
Michael Del Zotto
Games Played: 23
Comments: Del Zotto had a great rookie season but so far he has looked lost in his second season. He has been okay offensively but his defense has been very poor and at times he looks like he’s still a rookie out there. The Rangers need him to return to the form he was in last season.
Games Played: 23
Comments: To put it plain and simple, Brandon Dubinsky has been the best forward on the Rangers. After a few years of getting 40 points and not really showing signs of breaking out he has finally broken out and has been having himself a great season. He is the most consistent player the Rangers have and they will look for him to improve on his already impressive numbers.
Games Played: 21
Comments: I have no idea why Eminger is still on the team, he’s a mess out there on most nights. He isn’t going to contribute on offense but his defense has been bad. He can throw the body around which is nice but, much like the rest of the Rangers defense, he is out of position a lot but I guess he has gotten a little better since the beginning of the season but, what do you call getting a little better than atrocious?
Games Played: 23
Comments: Fedotenko was a late signing but he has been a nice addition to the Rangers lineup. He appears a bit snake bitten at times but he doesn’t give up and he has been getting a lot of chances, expect him to cash in on more of his opportunities as the season moves along.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Alex has been anything but great so far this season. When the season opened up, a lot of people thought that Rangers had a nice combo with Frolov and Gaborik but with Gaborik getting hurt early in the season and being out of the lineup it seemed like he took Frolov with him. Frolov has been playing better since Gaborik came back but he just doesn’t seem comfortable. The chances are there for Frolov but either he misses the net, shoots it back into the goalie, or he doesn’t get enough on the shot.
Games Played: 11
Comments: Gaborik has been doing well since he came back from his shoulder injury but his numbers are a bit deceiving since he had a hat-trick against the Oilers so his numbers look a little better than they really are. Gaborik may still be feeling discomfort in his shoulder, but it’s only a matter of time before Gaborik starts lighting the lamp on a nightly basis.
Games Played: 16
Comments: Gilroy is having another rough season, the former Hobey Baker award winner is having a tough time adjusting to the NHL. But at the age of 26, he is running out of time to get adjusted. Gilroy’s contract expires at the end of the season so if things don’t change he may have to look for a new home which won’t be easy to do.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Girardi has been the Rangers best defenseman so far this season both offensively and defensively. He leads the Rangers in blocked shots and he is the main reason why the Rangers lead the league in blocked shots as team. Girardi got a big contract extension this off-season and he has earned every single penny, not too bad for a guy who was an undrafted free agent.
Games Played: 16
Goal Against Average: 2.90
Save Percentage: .910%
Comments: Oh boy, its tough to see Lundqvist struggling early on in the season. The guy who has been the backbone of the Rangers for the last 5 years and he is now turning to his team to help get him out of this slump, the only problem is the team hasn’t answered the call. Lundqvist is too good and too competitive to stay down for much longer, once he gets going it’s going to be lights out for the Rangers opponents.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Prust has been the spark plug that he was last season. The guy doesn’t give up and he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Prust is a fan favorite in New York and for good reasons, he’s been great.
Games Played: 17
Comments: Sauer has had a rough transition from the AHL to the NHL but he is starting to get the hang of playing defense in the NHL. Sauer will continue to grow and learn as the season goes on.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Talk about the most overrated player on the team, Staal is not as good as everyone claims. The only good defensive plays he makes are right after he turns the puck over and too many times he has been caught pinching in the offensive zone which leads to odd man rushes the other way. Staal needs to be more responsible in the defensive zone and not worry about scoring goals.
Games Played: 23
Comments: Stepan has come back to earth after getting a hat-trick in his first NHL game. He has still been pretty good considering as he is second in rookie scoring behind only Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. Stepan is still learning and before you know it he will be a valuable weapon for the Rangers.
The Rangers are coming off a poor performance last night as they fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. The Rangers found themselves in penalty trouble and just got beat down by the red-hot Flyers.
Now the Rangers come into Newark to face a familiar foe in the New Jersey Devils. The Devils have had an awful start to the season. After everything they went through to acquire superstar sniper, Ilya Kovalchuk, I’m sure they were expecting better results. They are the worst team in the NHL in scoring and they are third worst in goals against and also boast the fourth worst record in the NHL at 4-9-1. They are also 0-4-1 in their own building this year.
The Rangers are now 6-5-1 and are tied with Pittsburgh for second place in the Atlantic Division. The offense has been strong for the Rangers but the defense on the other hand has been a disaster, especially the penalty kill. They will be looking to get back on the winning track against the struggling Devils
Usually when you talk Rangers-Devils hockey two names are brought up instantly, Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur. These games are all about these two goaltenders, low scoring affairs with flashy goaltending is the standard for Rangers-Devils hockey. Henrik Lundqvist has been a Devil killer since he came into the league in 05-06. His record currently stands at 19-7-5 with a 1.89 goals against average, the Rangers put their faith in Lundqvist to beat the Devils and he does it time in and time out. Rangers head coach, John Tortorella had this to say about Lundqvist’s success against the Devils, “I’m playing Hank against New Jersey,” said Tortorella at the morning skate Friday. “I don’t care if it’s four games in four nights, Hank’s playing against Jersey.”
Brodeur on the other hand has a record of 42-24-15-5 with a 2.10 goals against average, he has been a thorn in the Rangers side ever since he stepped on to the ice in 1991. Now Brodeur will not be able to play in this game tonight due to a sore elbow so the great goaltending matchup that everyone loves won’t be here. Now the Rangers, as well as their fans, may feel better not having to face Brodeur but there is still one problem…the Devils signed Ranger killer, Johan Hedberg this off-season. Hedberg has a record of 11-4-2 with a 2.12 goals against average, so the Rangers don’t get much of a break here.
The Rangers have had their own mash unit this season. Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal, and Chris Drury have all been out for the past few weeks with injuries and Ryan Callahan can now be added to the list. The Rangers top scorer will not dress tonight as he is “too sore” to play, Callahan plays hard and his bound to get banged up but he is a really tough guy so if he can’t play then there is something really bothering him. Alex Frolov, who seems to be suffering from a case of Chris Higgins syndrome, will most likely take his place on the top line tonight. Frolov has only two goals and five points in 12 games so far this season but being paired with red-hot forwards, Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky may help him breakthrough.
Rangers may also be without winger Ruslan Fedotenko was elbowed in the head by the wonderful, Daniel Carcillo in last night’s game. He seems to be ready to go but if he can’t then the Rangers will go with 11 forwards and seven defenseman. Todd White will also be back in the lineup tonight as well to help fill in with all the injuries to the Rangers forward corps.
Even with all their injuries the Rangers should still be able to beat the Devils and that’s because of one person, Henrik Lundqvist. When the Rangers need him he delivers and even if the Rangers forwards and defenseman were swapped with a pee-wee hockey team, sometimes they look like they are, the Rangers would still have a chance to win this game. Lundqvist is just that good.
Rangers win 2-1