NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Wojtek Wolski #86 of the New York Rangers reacts after scoring a second period goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the game at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
In response to earthworm's fanpost asking this very question I figured that I would weigh in on the discussion.
It's inevitable, with the trade deadline only two weeks away, that we're going to be bombarded with trade rumors over that time-span. In fact, the first dominos have already tipped over, with the Philadelphia Flyers trading their 1st and 3rd round selections to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Kris Versteeg.
But that's neither here nor there, what will the Rangers be doing at the deadline?
Well, to answer that question we need to look at the precarious perch the Rangers currently sit in with their 64 points. The Rangers are in seventh place, four points clear of Atlanta, who reside in ninth place. The Rangers are also four points away from fifth place which is held by Montreal with 68 points.
It's safe to say that after missing the playoff last year, the Rangers are not going to sit pat at the deadline. A strategy used last year by Glen Sather that saw the Rangers miss the playoffs by a single point, and only earn a 10th overall draft pick.
So it's obvious that last year's strategy didn't work.
But with that being said, I think that Sather's current strategy is brilliant.
Join me after the jump for more.
Sather has only made one trade this season, but it was by far one of the better trades made this year. Michael Rozsival was 32-years-old, declining from his hot start to the year and hasn't been anything special for the Phoenix Coyotes in his time there this season. He has one goal in nine games and is a -3.
Wojtek Wolski, on the other hand, has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 15 games while posting a +5. Wolski is pointing the power play, playing 16 minutes a night (including 2:36 a game on the power play) and has been a big part of the offense since he joined. The best part? He's only 24-years-old and might be a big part of this team in the future.
Anyway, back to the question at hand. Should the Rangers be buyers at the deadline?
Yes, I think they should, but only for the right deal.
Sather has made it painfully obvious that he's no longer in the market for older veterans who will cost precious draft picks and prospects. The only place that I can honestly see the Rangers making a veteran move would be at defense, and even so it would only be one player. So what Sather should be in the market for, is younger players with tons of upside.
Now, it's not like these types of deals grow on trees. Look at what the Flyers had to give up to get Versteeg (1st and 3rd round picks) compared to what the Rangers gave up to get Wolski (Rozsival). Wolski is the same age as Verteeg, has played in 148 more NHL games, and has scored 101 more NHL points. Wolski's best season (a 65-point performance) is well beyond Versteeg's 53 point performance. Of course, Versteeg is a Stanley Cup champion, so that factor in as well.
I'm not saying that Versteeg is a poor player, not even close. What I am saying, is that that deals for young players with miles of upside usually cost a hell of a lot more than Rozsival.
The Wolski deal was another example of one of the areas in which Sather thrives, mid-season trades. Sather's also been pretty good at the deadline, which is what we're looking at now.
So at the end of the day, if no "Wolski-like" deals are on the table, I would have no problem with the Rangers standing pat at the deadline.
What you also have to understand is that the Rangers have a wealth of talent waiting in the wings.
Chris Kreider just won the MVP of the Beanpot.
Christian Thomas is second in the OHL with 42 goals (he had 41 all of last year) and he still has 15 games left to play. Oh he's also added 33 assists to give him 75 points in 51 games, good for eighth in total scoring in the OHL. I'll admit I was upset with this pick when it first happened, I'm loving it now. (Note to self, never doubt Gordie Clark ever again).
Evgeny Grachev seems to be waking up in the AHL and might have finally found his game. Dylan McIlrath is making strides for Moose Jaw, and Ryan McDonagh is looking better and better every game in the NHL.
If Sather did nothing at the deadline it would be yet another vote of confidence to file into the "we're sticking to the youth" plan that the Rangers are employing.
If he does do something, let's hope it's Wolski-like.