The New York Rangers just completed a grueling nine-game road trip to begin their season, and they emerged from it with a myriad of issues. The most glaring problem is their lack of goal scoring depth.
Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin are three of the Rangers’ top six forwards, and are out with injuries. As a result, the team’s ability to out the puck in the net has been severely compromised. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that when these guys come back healthy, the Rangers will light the lamp enough to be considered a legit contender in the Eastern Conference. Furthermore, there is no timetable for Nash’s return from a concussion, and he is the team’s most indispensible and dynamic forward.
To address this need, general manager Glen Sather needs to trade for an elite sniper that can ease the pressure off the Rangers’ top forwards. The most logical choice at this time seems to be the Buffalo Sabres’ Thomas Vanek.
Buffalo is likely to be trading its top forward this season, as they are poised to begin rebuilding. Vanek is 29 years old and due to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. As a proven 30-40 goal scorer that has stayed healthy throughout his career, he can give the Rangers what they desperately need going forward.
The major obstacle to such a deal, however, is that the Rangers have no cap space. Vanek currently carries a cap hit of over $7 million. In order to acquire him, not only would the Rangers have to give a draft pick and/or prospect, but may also have to part with some established veterans. Underachieving defenseman Michael Del Zotto and center Brian Boyle are the most likely candidates. Both carry a combined cap hit of over $4 million. To make extra room, the Rangers can waive underachieving forwards such as Derek Dorsett and/or Taylor Pyatt, thus taking their cap hits off the books.
It may be a difficult deal to swing financially, but it behooves Sather to at least consider it. The need may become more glaring if the Rangers continue to struggle to score goals with all their top forwards healthy at the same time.