Monday, January 10, 2011

Time For Rangers To Make a Trade? What Should They Buy?

Update: The New York Rangers did make a trade today when they acquired Wojtek Wolski from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Michal Rozsival.  The move while having an element of gamble to is does certainly add to the Rangers overall talent level and makes them a bigger threat in the East then they were even before the Frolov injury.

The big question out there today is whether the season ending injury to Alex Frolov changes any of the New York Rangers calculations when it comes to making a trade.  Expect to have the rumor-mill churning with all sorts of names heading to the Rangers for everything under the sun, but let us take a step back and assess the situation.  The reality is that it both does and does not change the way the Rangers have to look at the roster.  The fact is replacing Frolov’s actual production is not that difficult seeing as how he only had a line of 7-9-16 in 43 games played and overall has been a massive disappointment.  In that sense there is no real need to make a move to replace him as he has fluctuated on and off the fourth line.  On the other hand there is a need to replace what the Rangers thought Frolov was going to be this season in terms of a secondary scorer.  The question then becomes do the Rangers try and hold the fort until the reinforcements of Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal filter back into the lineup over the next month or so or do they look to make a move to bring another player to add to the team?

The answer in the short term is likely that they try to ride out the injuries as they have to this point.  Only problem with that line of thinking is that at some point there has to be a cumulative impact of all these injuries, especially when added to the lack of performance from Marian Gaborik.  If you had Gabby firing away like he is capable to go with Dubinsky, Stepan, and Boyle to provide you with four consistent goal scorers at the moment a move would not only not be necessary now it might not be necessary at all to be a contender this season. 
The obvious drawback to looking to make a move right now is the other organizations will smell blood in the water and demand a higher premium for whatever you are looking to acquire.  Salary is not really an issue with the loss of Frolov since club now possesses approximately 4 million and cap space and come trade deadline time could pick up a salary as large as 8.8 million according to Capgeek.  This might make the big name, big contract guy a temptation for Sather, but I do not feel that is the kind of guy the team needs.  As I said above what the team needs is a person to fill the role that Frolov was supposed to fill. 
This creates a different conversation of whether the simple answer is just that Mats Zuccarello is that player.  Emotionally I want to believe he is that answer and he has shown he can play at this level while thriving in big moments, but my worry is about position.  I know that Zuke has and can play the left side, but in watching the difference in how he played for the Rangers on the right and left wings there was a stark difference in his effectiveness.  Reality is when Callahan comes back the Rangers have three right wingers who are top six capable and only one left winger unless Prospal proves to be healthy, which I am not counting on. 
I believe this team needs a LW and I have a number of them in mind with varying costs (mainly Gilroy and/or picks) in terms of trade requirements but not with significant salaries that better fit the Rangers need for a second line winger who can score on the power play.  I have discussed a few of them and depending on what happens in the short term I will talk about some more and why I think they solve the holes for the team. 
In the meantime the Rangers are going to try and hold the fort and do not be surprised if the move to bring up Newbury is a potential hedge against relying on Avery as Newbury can play center, which would free Drury to move back up to the second line while they wait for those reinforcements to arrive.
So tell me what you think. Will the Rangers make a trade? Should the Rangers make a trade?  If they should, what should they target?