If the playoffs started today - the famous saying - the New York Rangers would not be fighting for the Stanley Cup... The team currently sits one point of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 10-9-2 record after 21 games.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, a major rebuild is needed for the Rangers if they ever hope to win a championship any time soon. Brooks agrees that New York needs to choose between rebuilding itself or spending another year trying to load up for a playoff run.
While they will need to land a top forward for a playoff run - Brooks hints again at San Jose Sharks veteran Joe Thornton, it is believed that the Rangers will be sellers at the deadline with many names on the block.
Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Nick Holden are eligible for free agency in July, while star defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Mats Zuccarello are set to be on the open market in 2019. Brooks thinks selling Nash and Grabner could land the Rangers as many as two first-round picks, but it's trading McDonagh that could change the future of the Rangers.
"If Gorton could create a bidding war between the clubs that appear the East’s elite, perhaps the Rangers could come back with Mitch Marner from Toronto or perhaps Mikhail Sergachev from Tampa Bay in exchange for the player who for a half-decade has been the Rangers’ most important athlete other than Lundqvist and who still would have another year and another playoff remaining on his contract," Brooks notes.
The Rangers have reached the playoffs in each of the past seven years and did add in each of the previous four seasons at the Trade Deadline. It might be very different this time around...