The New York Rangers stand deadlocked for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference one-third into their regular season campaign. Given their hard work ethic, the Rangers have created an identity of a team who will work for an entire 60 minutes. At times, the scheduling has caught up to them, but all in all one cannot be disappointed with the efforts of the club.
Complacency from top to bottom is the one nagging issue with the team this season. Players like Alex Frolov and Ruslan Fedotenko have been invisible way too often. Many Ranger fans are already calling for the head of Frolov, but I am not keen on cutting ties with the struggling winger just yet. In fairness to Frolov, the Rangers do not have a remedy at the number one center position to get him going. John Tortorella and company can say as they please, but the number one center by committee rotation has not and will not work for the coming games in store.
Erik Christensen is not a top line center. He is a player I would not want on my club, even if his cap hit were $0. Christensen has no self confidence—he talks about himself in the third person when interviewed in a negative manner. Players like this will never be able to bring their A game every night when mentally they do not believe in themselves. Christensen has the talent; its just too bad the Rangers still believe he can be a pivot between Gaborik and whomever else Tortorella puts on the opposite wing.
The Rangers’ defense has been one that I really do not have an issue with. Michael Sauer, for the most part, has been a pleasant surprise alongside Steve Eminger. The third pairing defenders are playing into their defined roles well. Marc Staal at times has looked great and at others dismal, but when you are going up against top players on a nightly basis the mistakes will only be magnified. Veteran mainstay Michael Rozsival started the season off with a bang, but has steadied off. The Rangers’ defense looked more poised without him for a few games when he sat out with injury. I’m still steadfast in my belief that Rozsival is way too much of a liability to have out on the ice—the defenseman he is paired with has his play regress. Matt Gilroy has not been a surprise; when he was inserted into the lineup he was decent given his seven minutes of ice time. Gilroy will not finish the season out with the club if management were smart, as he is clearly not happy here.
The Rangers do have a fighting chance in the East if they decide to make a trade for number one center Brad Richards. Richards will be able to give the Rangers a true pivot for Gaborik and would redefine the power play. If the Rangers can do this without parting with any of their core (Dubinsky, Callahan, Stepan, Staal, Del Zotto) they must make this move. I would not rule out moving Girardi to Dallas in the event the Rangers can bring along a defenseman in a deal for Brad Richards. Artem Anisimov is another Ranger player that I would be open in moving for Richards. It would not be a popular move by dealing Anisimov, but lets be real here: Anisimov will never be Brad Richards.
I leave you all with this proposal for Brad Richards:
Rangers trade: Anisimov, Gilroy, Prospect, 2nd
Stars trade: Richards, Daley
The Dallas Stars are going to lose Richards no matter what, via either trade or free agency after next season. The Rangers and Stars have reportedly been in contact, with Dallas demanding Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. The proposal was immediately shot down by Sather, who will no part with any of his core.