If I asked myself this question 7 games ago, I'd answer it with a resounding "We are buyers". But in a strange twist of fate that nobody saw coming, a 1-6 record in those last 7 games puts us solidly on the edge of the playoff equation. Lets face it, we should have won at least half of those games the way we have played this season. Even that might have been disappointing. With a 30-24-4 record good for 64pts and 7th place, we are holding on to 7th by 2 pts over 8th place Carolina and 4pts over 9th place Atlanta, two teams who we can't seem to beat. With the teams behind us playing better hockey things are only going to get tighter for us. We can only seem to beat Washington and Pittsburgh (teams in front of us) and nobody else. Watch us blow the games we play against the Devils and Islanders next time around.
What should the plan be? Lets address what this team needs first. The Rangers need scoring and they need a bonafide PP specialist on the point. A cheap solid defenseman couldn't hurt either but is certainly not a priority.
If we are going to make a run or attempt it, we need to find a scorer because this season Gabby is not carrying us. I like the additions of Wolski and Zuke but we need a true scorer to put serious numbers up. My conclusion is that we are not going to get one at the deadline and certainly not without paying a ton. That said we need to wait for the offseason to get a big gun, think Brad Richards. That will compliment Gabby well and a line of those two and either Wolski or Avery might be interesting.
As far as a PP QB on the blueline whats out there? Souray.....pass, McCabe......um......pass.....Kaberle.....Pass. Why take on any aging players with big contracts if they are not helping us win this year. And we are not winning this year. See every team ahead of us who we can't beat. Del Zotto is not our QB and may never be that player. I'd rather not trade him now for a rental and give him another year. In the offseason maybe make a run at someone once our own guys are re signed. Or......has anyone ever thought of asking Staal to play more offensive during the PP? I mean he clearly can score, has good instincts, follows the play well and cuts in on the net. Ask him to hold the puck and shoot more...why not? he does not have to alter his play on 5 on 5 situations.......coul this be a good idea?
This brings us to adding a solid defenceman whos not overly expensive. One player who I think is very attainable is Fedor Tyutin. The guy is and has been a rock and should never have been traded in the first place. I think we could get him back and bolster our defense even further with his stay at home physical play for a minimal return. I like our defense. Staal, Girardi, McD, Eminger, Gilroy and Sauer have been very good. Gilroy gives me fits sometimes and I do think he is a tradable asset. Add Tyutin to that mix and we are very capable defensively. This is assuming either gilroy or Del Zotto is traded before next camp.
Lets examine two very real points regarding this season.
1-Nobody is beating the Flyers in the East and especially nobody named the Rangers.
2-Not many of us even thought the current 30-24-4 record was possible at this point of the season since we kind of felt that this was a rebuilding year. The team has been surprisingly good, extremely hard working but in truth lacks key parts to be a serious contender. Despite overcoming a ton of injuries and staying competitive the team falls short of being a real contender. I'm not sure making the playoffs as the 8th seed and going out in the first round is a good thing for the development of this team. At this point, a higher pick seems like a better option. I'm not even sure we are going to make the playoffs since we are now having difficult with the teams around us. Atlanta, Carolina, NJ, Montreal, Flyers, Boston is tough. The Isles and Caps are due against us one of these games too, You know when we need 2 pts desparately and play them, we won't get it when we need it.
My conclusion is we are neither buyers nor sellers. Nothing we buy is going to help us in the immediate future and nothing we sell helps us in the long run. We have such a good core and some potentially good young players, there is no need to do anything crazy. I say stand pat, maybe make a minor deal or two.