One thing is for certain after the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins have thrown down the gauntlet. They traded away Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek to create a significant amount of cap space for this offseason. In other words, it might be possible for the Penguins to land both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise on July 1st.
That would be a major problem for every other team in the Atlantic Division. That would be a major problem for the New York Rangers.
The Rangers are a team who have a good thing going for them. They have a wealth of young talent who is moving in the right direction in Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh and Artem Anisimov. They have a core of character guys who can help on both ends of the ice in Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky (if he stays) and Brian Boyle. They have two premier players in Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. They have the best goaltender in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. And they have one of the NHL's fastest rising prospects in Chris Kreider.
The problem is, the Penguins have the potential to get much, much better this summer. And if they do, they Rangers' brass will have to get creative in order for them to get better.
Jin me after the jump for more.
The reason why I say "creative" is because Glen Sather can't make a panic-trade for Rick Nash. Scott Howson's asking price is "laughable" according to Larry Brooks, and the Rangers certianly aren't moving names like Stepan, Kreider, Tim Erixon or Ryan McDonagh for a talented player who has a franchise-tag-sized contract on his hands. Especially when that player becomes increasingly more frustrated with the management of the team. Perhaps Nash will destroy his own trade value after all, or maybe he won't, either way, this is a situation that's getting ugly for Howson.
Don't for a moment, however, think that's going to lower Howson's demands. We've already seen he doesn't care how embarrassing this situation gets for the Columbus Blue Jackets or himself, he still thinks he can get the moon for Nash. Maybe he can, but it won't be from Sather.
The other thing you need to remember, is that Bobby Ryan is still on the market. Ryan is upset with being put on the market for the second time this season, and wants to go to a team who isn't going to trade him the moment things don't go right.
Ryan's price will also be high, but it's unlikely that Anaheim will want this situation to draw out any longer than it has to. Ryan is exactly what the Rangers need, and he's someone who -- if the rumors can be believed -- is not atop the Rangers' list since Nash's price remains sky-high.
The real part of this creativity, however, is whether or not Sather can find another player who can put the puck into the back of the net. Perhaps a Patrick Kane -- who is rumored to be available -- or another player (who isn't such a big name) hits the block.
Either way, the Rangers can't stand still.
So when the trades they're looking at hit a stall, then it's time for Sather to become creative.