Okay, it's time to snap back to reality and dust off the Olympic break and jump back into the New York Rangers. Which, for those of you that don't follow hockey, is like being married to Jessica Alba for two weeks, only to then be forced to come home and go back to your wife, while she's sitting on the couch eating a pint of Haagan Dazs watching One Life to Live...
So, now that we're done with that two-week fantasy that was the Olympics, it's time to get down to business.
The trade deadline is just two days away, and quite frankly, it might be a boring one for the Rangers. In a perfect world, GM Glen Sather would trade away just about everything he could to stockpile for the future. But this isn't a perfect world, it's Sather's world, and most likely he'll bring in some spare parts to push for a bottom spot in the playoff race, while exiting within the first two rounds.
Like I said in an earlier article, the Rangers need to begin a semi-rebuilding process . Not completely stripping the team of everything, but staying competitive while allowing the younger players to accumulate experience. The kids need to play hard minutes at the NHL level if we're ever going to see what they can do.
One step in this direction is to trade every player that would help us with this process. Sather started this by moving Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik last month. Higgins wasn't as much of a concern since he was slated to be a free agent at season's end, but shedding Kotalik and his remaining two years was key.
Trading your second-leading scorer while battling for a playoff spot, isn't usually the gameplan for the trade deadline.
However, Vinny Prospal is the smartest option for Sather to move. Prospal has been tallying up a nice season so far in his first year with the Rangers. With 14 goals, 33 assists, and an expiring contract at season's end, he's lip-licking good for teams looking to bolster their offense.
Since Sather is a mastermind when it comes to trades (ahem, Jagr for Anson Carter, Gomez this past offseason, and Pavel Bure for Igor Ulanov), it wouldn't surprise me to see Prospal get a return of a high prospect or a first rounder.
However, Prospal has made it no secret that he wants to stay in New York, and any chance the Rangers have of signing him next season, might lie in the balance should Sather pull the trigger.
"I hope I don't have to think about anything like that," Prospal told Arthur Staple of Newsday . "I just hope the aspect of us being in the playoff race is a big thing. I hope I'll stay here and stay for a long time."
I love the way Prospal plays, but let's face it, he is aging and is going to want a significant raise over the peanuts he's making this year. Getting something of value even if it's a draft pick or two for him now, would be a much smarter option than holding onto him hoping that he'll sign for close to what he's making this year.
After Prospal, there aren't too many options for the Rangers to ship off. Defensemen Dan Girardi is an interesting option, however.
Girardi is set to be an RFA at the end of the year, and honestly I'm not sure if he'll be brought back. The Rangers have a studded defensive corps down in the AHL as well at the college and junior levels.
Unless Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden can be moved either by waivers or trade, it's hard to find room for the younger blueliners next season.
Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy will all be locks for the team next year, and that leaves one slot open if Girardi is moved. It's time to bring up a guy like Bobby Sanguinetti to see what he can actually do. He is slated to make $675,000 next season, and they need to see how he can progress at the next level, whether they think he's ready or not.
Illka Heikkinen has already stated that he's most likely going back to Europe next season after his contract expires. He's spent most of the season in the AHL with a short stint with the Rangers in middle.
Hopefully Sather will realize that this team is simply not constructed to make a deep run in the playoffs and doesn't jeopardize the youth in an effort to make a push. If he doesn't realize this, well then we have a long four years until we get our next date with Jessica Alba.
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