The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the Rangers, like all buyers, are internally targeting players they'd like to kick the tires on as the deadline comes and goes. In the past we've seen the Rangers do a lot of buying -- a compliment to the team's string of successful seasons -- but in that time we've seen a lot of the same types of acquisitions. The "typical" targets, if you will.
The "typical" targets have already been named more than a few times this year. Antoine Vermette has soaked up the biggest spotlight, with media members salivating over his veteran experience and ability to win faceoffs (but ignore his lack of possession).
Don Maloney has made it clear he wants a first round pick AND a solid prospect in return for the pending UFA. If the market just isn't there you can expect Maloney to deflate his demands to a first round pick OR a solid prospect. Either way, the price tag is simply too high for the Rangers. Especially if that "solid prospect" is J.T. Miller or, dare I say, Anthony Duclair or Pavel Buchnevich. (For full disclosure, I've heard both Duclair and Buchnevich are non-starts in any deal, so that's good.)
Chris Neil, who is also rumored to be available, is another player the Rangers need to avoid like the plague. To put it simply: The Rangers already employ someone who can't play defense, doesn't add offense and only provides the illusion of toughness. Sure, Neil has six more points than Tanner Glass, but the hope is the Rangers will acquire a player that will finally make Glass a permanent resident of the press box, not replace -- or worse, join -- him.
I've seen a few people talk about Martin Hanzal -- who would be a really nice add -- but his contract runs through next year and it would be tough for the Rangers to make the money work because, again, they've sunk nearly $1.5-million into a player who can't really play. And since I'm not expecting Mats Zuccarello to be on the block (nor should he be) I just don't see it happening because it's too expensive.
What the Rangers really need to do is add a cheaper depth player who can add true value to the team in their Stanley Cup quest. The name being floated around is Toronto Maple Leafs center Mike Santorelli, a defensively sound center who can add a little pop of offense. The Leafs are rumored to be trying to keep him in the fold, but if a contract extension can't be struck soon they'd have to shop him or risk losing him for nothing.
This kind of addition would not only send a ripple effect through the rest of the team -- it would move Keivn Hayes to the wing where he can focus on more offense -- but it would also add another player to the mix who can play defense and open up space for the top guns.
We've talked a lot about how the Rangers are shooting themselves in the foot by dressing a fourth line that can't handle regular defensive assignments let alone the brutal assignments last year's bottom three took on. The closest the Rangers have come is with a Dominic Moore, Jesper Fast and Lee Stempniak line -- which handled the role well -- but those nights are far and few between because the Rangers continue to dress Glass most every night.
A guy like Santorelli not only gives a little more stability the third line, but he would also help push a player down on the depth chart and give the Rangers the four lines Alain Vigneault desperately wants to roll. If the overtime loss to Dallas on Sunday proved anything, it's that close games force Vigneault to significantly shorten his bench.That can't keep happening, especially in the playoffs.
A savvy deadline move for a player like Santorelli -- who would be significantly cheaper than a guy like Vermette -- would give the Ranges exactly what the doctor ordered. Depth.
Sure, it's not your typical Rangers trade deadline target. But if those targets cost as much as Vermette or are for players with the last name Neil, I don't want a typical addition at all.