NHL New York Rangers

5 Deals the New York Rangers Should Consider Making Before the Trade Deadline

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New York Rangers Face Pressing Issues Leading Up to the NHL Trade Deadline

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The New York Rangers have a decision to make regarding the future of their 2013-14 season. Glen Sather and the rest of the management team understand that this current Rangers team is not built for a long playoff run or a shot at the Stanley Cup. The Rangers lack depth, experience and also need a boost in the overall skill level of the team.

While certain players need to be brought in, others are on their way out. There are several pending unrestricted free agents that the Rangers must deal with as well. Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Brian Boyle are the three main unsigned players going into the trade deadline. Sather must decide whether to keep them and risk losing them for nothing in free agency or trading them on the Mar. 5 deadline to get at least some value back. Talks with Girardi’s camp have stalled, yet it is believed that a deal will be reached. Boyle, a fourth-line role player, will face negotiations once the big contracts are dealt with. The same holds true for defenseman Anton Stralman and forwards Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot.

There are several moves that the Rangers can make to improve their club now and in the future. There have been names thrown around the rumor mills that could end up as potentially strong fits for a Rangers roster that is almost at the top level but needs a small push into the category of top tier.

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5. Acquire a Veteran, Scoring Left Winger

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The Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets were rumored to be talking earlier in the season regarding forwards such as Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane. While the cost to acquire Kane may be too high, the Rangers do have the assets available to acquire a player such as Ladd. A gritty veteran with two Stanley Cup championships on his resume, Ladd would upgrade the scoring ability of the team as well. He's a big body that would make the team tougher to play against, and his contract is very reasonable at $4.4 million signed through the 2015-16 season.

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4. Trade Ryan Callahan

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This is an absolute must for the Rangers. Callahan and his agent have reportedly asked for upwards of $6.75 million per season on a long-term deal. Instead of keeping him around for the rest of the year just to let him go as a free agent, New York should address some of the weaknesses in their prospect group. The Rangers need to acquire talented prospects in all positions and certain proposals can solve almost all of these issues. With the Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks all interested, Sather will be able to find a strong and suitable offer to bolster the club for the future.

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3. Acquire a Replacement for Callahan

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Blues right winger Chris Stewart would be perfect. Even with St. Louis poised for a deep playoff push, Stewart has battled inconsistent play and needs a change of scenery to revitalize his career. Trade talks between the Rangers and Blues have occurred involving a swap of Callahan for Stewart plus other pieces, and New York should be eagerly listening. Like Ladd, Stewart adds size to the lineup. Stewart plays the corners well and uses his size to his advantage. He would also immediately replace Callahan's spot in the lineup, leaving chemistry intact to allow for a smooth transition for all. A move for Stewart would include other draft picks and prospects that would help the organization down the road.

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2. Trade for Winnipeg Right Wing Blake Wheeler

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This scenario should only occur if Callahan is traded solely for prospects and not for Stewart and other pieces. Jets forward Blake Wheeler is on pace for 66 points this season which would be a career high. He is the total combination of size, speed and skill and should be highly coveted at the trade deadline though there is no guarantee he will be dealt. He is in the first year of a six-year deal that comes with a cap hit of $5.6 million. This is a very affordable and manageable number for a first line right wing. He would immediately boost the skill level of the Rangers and provide more offense than Callahan has on the second line. While there may be high cost in acquiring a player like Wheeler, the reward for such a move can be well worth it.

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1. Prepare for Departure of Brad Richards

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There are several skilled centers rumored to be available such as the Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Nazem Kadri. It is almost predetermined that Brad Richards will be bought out this season, and the sooner the Rangers look to acquire a replacement the better. Having a combination of Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard and one other skilled center will allow the Rangers to minimize the short-term pain of losing a player like Richards who has provided good offensive production this season. This scoring flexibility is something that the Rangers have experienced this season with good results, so keeping a similar roster build with more affordable contracts will allow the team a quicker turnaround after losing key players.