A few days ago I wrote about how the trade deadline was approaching with eerie silence. And then, as though it knew I said something, Wednesday the dominoes fell like someone set off the entire set on accident.
Late Tuesday night the Wild scooped up Sean Bergenheim for a measly third round pick. Then the Penguins swept up Daniel Winnik for a second round pick, a fourth round pick and Zach Sill with Toronto agreeing to retain half of Winnik's salary. The moves were smart for both Minnesota and Pittsburgh, as both teams shored up their bottom six with a defensive forward who can add some offense. And thanks to the Nashville Predators jumping on Mike Santorelli last week, all the smart forward options are off the board.
Per the whispers that always float above the waters during this time in the season. Antoine Vermette and Mark Letestu are the next two biggest dominoes in the pile. Or, as I like to call them, nope and nope.
The road ends here for forwards before Monday's trade deadline. At least it better for the Rangers. Outside of Cam Atkinson (who was rumored to possibly be available) there are no more forwards being shopped who make any sense. Letestu is a media darling who they only like because apparently faceoffs are super important. That ideology conveniently ignores the Rangers have been bad at the dot all year (and still winning a slew of games) and that what happens after the faceoff is important, not the draw itself. Plus, Letestu has horrible possession numbers, which almost boggles the mind since his FO% is about 52%. Shouldn't he have better numbers if he is winning so many draws?
Vermette, on the other hand, would be a fine addition, minus the package it would cost to get him. I already begged the brass not to throw away J.T. Miller, and moving him in a package for a rental is doing just that. That doesn't even take into account the picks or prospects that would need to go the other way. It doesn't make long-term or short-term sense, but the rumors aren't going to stop until the deadline ends.
The only moves left are for a depth defenseman. I wanted the Rangers to make a move for Andrej Sekera, but he was moved Wednesday as well to Los Angeles for a first round pick and a prospect. Like I hypothesized, he became too expensive as interest grew around the league. That move leaves just one option that stands out to me; Senator's defenseman Patrick Wiercioch who has really good possession numbers despite tougher assignments.
My guess is Wiercioch is not on the team's radar, simply because they haven't bought into analytics fully and wouldn't think to look in those corners. And, at this point, whatever. Rome wasn't built in a day, and to expect the team to completely overhaul their ideologies in five days is absurd. So it is what it is.
Which leaves us to the best trade the Rangers might be making on deadline day: Not making one at all.
I know, I know, it sounds insane. Especially when you realize some teams will make AHL depth moves just to get their name in the ring. It's probably harder for a team not to make a trade on deadline day than it is to make one, especially when some teams are hanging "all items must go" signs out their window.
But just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something. Just because the Rangers can make a trade doesn't mean they should make a trade. Especially if the trade doesn't make sense. And right now, I don't see a lot of smart options available.
The proof of this came late Wednesday night when Bob McKenzie (speaking between periods on NBC) mentioned the Rangers are apparently interested in Tyler Bozak. I don't even have words to express how insane this move would be from a logistics standpoint. And I don't feel like going into all the reasons why Bozak is a paper tiger which, if acquired, would be a catastrophic failure by management. The cap space, thankfully, doesn't really allow this to work, so let's leave it at that.
And if the Rangers actually do want a guy like Bozak, then nothing is the best move because no good will come from this deadline.
If that's the play then so be it. Don't add to add, because typically additions come at the cost of a subtraction, especially if it's a pick or a guy like Miller.
If the Rangers do nothing, then Jesper Fast returning becomes the added forward. Sit Tanner Glass (seriously, why has this taken so long?) and make a fourth line of Fast - Dominic Moore - Lee Stepmniak. Keep Miller- Kevin Hayes - Carl Hagelin as the third line and leave the top six alone. That's a four line team. And, actually, that fourth line might be better than last year's, the third line is better all around and the top six might have more punch.
That's how you get back in the game and march to the Stanley Cup Final. That's how you make things happen.
Sometimes the best move is the one you don't make.