First of all, happy holidays to you and your families! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate it, and here's to a great new year!
As the Rangers return to action -- coming off an overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks before the roster freeze -- and you're full of Christmas dinner, it might be easy to forget the Rangers are finishing off a largely forgettable December. Usually December marks the month where Alain Vigneault's squad figures things out, but that wasn't the case this year with the Rangers sporting a 3-6-2 record as of this writing. Tonight's matchup against the Predators and Wednesday's matchup against the Lightning will be the final two games of the year to help the Rangers turn the month around.
Before the break there was pretty rampant speculation the Rangers were ready to shake things up. While no names were tossed around (or even speculated) it's pretty clear this roster needs a tune up in more ways than one.
The Rangers aren't the only team that needs a change, though. Yesterday the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Florida Panthers, which created this tweet by the most respected beat reporter for the Blue Jackets:
Time for management to swallow their pride, admit this isn't working, that they badly erred in putting together this mix of players.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 27, 2015
There have already been rumors about Ryan Johansen being a guy on the block in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have also admitted they're willing to trade anyone, and it's clear the ship is sinking. There is the John Tortorella factor there for someone like Dan Girardi, and there is also that "old school" mentality when it comes to someone like that coaching that roster which can help facilitate that move.
But there's other evidence to a move lurking in the shadows, too. The Ducks have the second lowest point total in the league with 32. The Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit out of a playoff spot. Montreal has lost six games in a row, and because of that the Panthers are the top team in the Atlantic.
This year there's been a dearth of moves overall. In fact, off the top of my head I can't even remember the last time there was a trade, let alone who was moved. It really seems like most teams are close enough to the playoffs that they don't want to shake things up too much before seeing what they have. The Rangers, in my opinion, also employed this method of evaluation, since the ship has been sinking long before that horrid West Coast trip.
There's rumors the Rangers are in the market for a top-six player to be added to the fold -- which shouldn't come at the expense of Keith Yandle as some have suggested. Johansen fits that bill, but I'm not sure the Blue Jackets would be willing to trade within the division. There's also the little matter of Emerson Etem continuing to get jerked around this lineup while lesser players play over him, so adding another player into that mix would probable eliminate him from the lineup completely. Not that adding more to the logjam should be the reason why you don't make a good trade, but the Rangers don't seem to know what to do with the players they already have.
If there's a move to be made, the Rangers need to re-vamp their defense. By all account Kevin Klein and Girardi are back and ready to go. That means there needs to be a decision made when it comes to Dylan McIlrath's playing time (should be every game) and who sits for him (should be either Girardi or Marc Staal or a rotation of the two).
Either way, don't be surprised to see reports about the Rangers kicking some tires and Jeff Gorton doing his due diligence to see if there's a move out there.
The Rangers aren't the only team that needs a shake up.