The Rangers Should Still Sell At The Deadline Despite Recent Success

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Jeff Gorton and John Davidson at the Draft (Getty Images)
NHL.com

The Rangers have been winning some significant games recently. Showing resilience with come from behind wins, dominating performances, and clutch efforts throughout the entire lineup. Although they have been able to squeeze out points from the Bruins, the Predators, and the Capitals, their lack of consistency may warrant a reality check. The overall youth within the organization, coupled with pending free agents, may not be a reason to sell outright; but it should be a warning sign when approaching February’s trade deadline.

(JL) One of the main reasons the Rangers should sell even though they are playing reasonably well is because they need to give more spots to the youth. If they are fully committed to the rebuild that was promised, they will create places for these young guns to come in and thrive. Guys like Vitali Kravtsov and Lias Andersson aren’t fit for the lower-end, bottom-six roles, but rather as top-six forwards surrounded by equally skilled players that can supplement each other. Opening spots for players like K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, and Joey Keane on the back end is something that needs to happen once they’re ready to crack the NHL. We can already see how playing the youth is already beneficial with the strong play of Adam Fox, Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren and Kaapo Kakko, who are all making an impact even at their young ages. That being said, with all of this young talent comes a lack of experience.

(K) Although the youth of the Rangers is promising for the future, another reason to take a step back is, in fact, their lack of experience in high leverage games. They do need experience in playoff runs as well as the playoffs itself to make any sort of noise come April, but they also shouldn’t jeopardize their overall development for a small chance at the playoffs. A case can be made for the Rangers in comparison to the Carolina Hurricanes from last season. Their youth and leadership from Justin Williams and Jordan Staal helped propel them into the Eastern Conference Finals. Although they made a minor swap, as well as a somewhat significant trade in January (Victor Rask for Nino Niederreiter), the Hurricanes bet on their current team to enter the playoff race and did not buy during the deadline.

This could be a learning experience for the Rangers if they do want to compete this season. Based on their inconsistent play, it’s tough to argue in their favor come February, especially with the significant amount of pending free agents the Rangers will have in the offseason.

(JL) Cap space is king in the NHL, and with the ceiling going up, the Rangers will need as much cap space as possible to succeed in keeping this core moving forward. Players like Brendan Lemieux, Tony DeAngelo, Pavel Buchnevich, to name a few, are due for pay raises. Long term money is already locked in for Artemiy Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Mika Zibanejad, and Brady Skjei. Those contracts, along with the dead cap that the Rangers hold with the Kevin Shattenkirk buyout, is reason for them to clear contracts like Marc Staal, Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider and Brendan Smith. Making these moves is vital in ensuring the youth can be re-signed for the future. Having an abundance of cap space can allow the Rangers to keep players like Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, and Filip Chytil, along with any incoming youth that may need to be locked up in the future.

(K) Looming large is the inevitable departure of a few Rangers this offseason. It’ll be in the best interest of the organization to at least receive some compensation instead of losing them for nothing. Already boasting a large influx of young talented prospects as well as draft picks, the Rangers should be ready to compete by next season. That being said, to maintain a healthy and full prospect pool, the Rangers will also need to keep replenishing it. During their cup runs and playoff appearances, the Rangers depleted their already laughable incoming talent for an extra NHL stud to boost their lineup year after year. To buy during future deadlines, it’ll be crucial that the Rangers maintain their high level of prospects in order to supplement any future contender that may come about through this process. That means dealing current tenured Rangers for future assets allows the organization to use those trade chips, all while keeping their best players at hand. Therefore in the coming competitive seasons, the Rangers will be able to mix and match different prospects and picks to receive the best package available at the deadline.

At the end of the day, the Rangers need to stick with the plan and not buy at the deadline, even if the team is playing well. This is still a developmental season for most, and risking any future assets for short term gain does not adhere to the plan the Rangers put forward after “the letter” a few years back. The general inexperience of the youth should not be rushed, and with the possible raising of the salary cap, patience is crucial, and so far, the Rangers have done well with sticking to the plan. Buying at the deadline defeats the purpose of whatever the organization has put forward, but selling at the deadline will expedite the process for the greater good.

Editor’s note: This post was co-written by Forever Blueshirts writers JohnLuke Chaparro and Kevin Crupi.