This season has been something of a roller coaster for New York Rangers fans, and to be honest, that ride isn't over yet. But something has become very, very clear: These Rangers are just starting to truly figure out who they are. Sure, it's very late in an already shortened season. Sure, it doesn't answer any questions about whether or not the Rangers are true Cup contenders -- and if anything that points towards them not being contenders. Sure, some reinforcements are coming that might throw this new identity into confusion.
But you know what the Rangers are proving? They don't need to make any more moves at the deadline.
Mats Zuccarello is on his way and will probably suit up tonight. Jesper Fast apparently can play in the NHL this year (contrary to the original reports on his situation) and is already in New York. Oscar Lindberg would have to get here before April 3rd to be eligible for the playoffs, so, he's probably not coming. According to reports, the Rangers have stocked their shelves even more with the expected signing of UMass offensive defenseman Conor Allen.
Is there any reason for the Rangers to try and make a play at the deadline? Is there any reason why the Rangers should try to trade Marian Gaborik?
I've been a strong believer that the Rangers shouldn't actively be trying to move Gaborik. I'm also a believe that if the right deal comes along the Rangers have to pull the trigger. But this team has addressed two major concerns (depth and some offensive-minded depth) in Zuccarello and (potentially) Fast. Why mess with it?
I'll go as far as saying this: If Gaborik and Brad Richards find their game in time for the playoffs, the Rangers can hang with anyone. Anyone including the newly loaded Pittsburgh Penguins.
That's the risk the Rangers should be taking right now. Richards has gotten a little better as the season has gone on. Maybe his performance against the Philadelphia Flyers will liven him up. Gaborik is snake-bitten on a level we haven't seen in a long time.
If Gaborik and Richards come back to what they were last year, I would go to war with this team over anyone. Maybe it's because I'm a Rangers fan. Or maybe it's because the Rangers came thisclose last year without Gaborik scoring in the playoffs (thanks to an injury) without Derek Stepan becoming a main offensive leader on this team, without Carl Hagelin taking another big step and without the vast improvement of Michael Del Zotto. Is it likely to happen? Maybe. As for those of you who think it can't happen, let me introduce you to the Los Angeles Kings.
I'm sure the Rangers with make a depth move at the deadline. The team does have three third-round picks -- although they might want to use those to hop into the second round in this loaded draft -- and some expendable prospects (the team is right up against the 50 contract limit) but they don't need to make a blockbuster move.
If Gaborik and Richards find their way, that will be blockbuster enough. Oh -- and like Zuccarello, Fast and Allen (even though he's going to play in the AHL if he signs, he's still a very valuable asset) -- they were all free.
That's some savvy wheeling and dealing if you ask me.