Tick-tock goes the clock as the trade deadline nears for Vigneault and the Rangers

NYR fall to Islanders (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Rangers suffered another loss last night in the fog of the “rebuild presser”. This time to the hands of their biggest rival, the Islanders. Now the team is 4 points out of the final wild card spot in the East, giving the Blueshirts only a 14% chance of making the playoffs.

At this rate, the Rangers are very likely to not only miss the playoffs but finish in the top 10 of the NHL draft lottery. If that is the case, the Rangers would have at least a 5% chance of winning the lottery and the prized selection of defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin. They also would have about a 14-15% chance to move into the top 3 per Tankathon.

May as well keep the losses coming and your fingers crossed.

The Wolves are at the Door

For nearly a decade, this franchise was competitive…I mean highly competitive. They made the ECF in 2012, 2014, and 2015 with a trip to the Cup Final in 2014. They also won a Presidents’ Trophy in 2015 which is also impressive. However, what really stands out is this:

Since the 2010-11 Season, the NY Rangers have played more playoff games than any other team with 98, beating Pittsburgh by 3 (95). This is quite the statistic that will be easily overlooked.

Sadly, the Rangers never achieved the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup which makes what is happening now more difficult for everyone involved. It is like starting a marathon and never finishing, or it’s that classic sports car you bought rotting in your driveway because you couldn’t afford to finish the restoration.

The organization is paying the price for their Cup-less success, as veterans grow long in the tooth and a lack of first round draft picks have come to haunt them in the last 2 years. There are only so many college free agents to sign, like Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey, but they aren’t high end draft picks like Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, and Auston Matthews.

This is acceptable for a team like the Blackhawks, who have played 89 playoff games in that span, but have Stanley Cups to show for it.

The Clock is Ticking to Zero

AP

We are now nearing the last week before the NHL trade deadline. While every NHL insider weighs in on the situation, the noise inside the Rangers organization is growing. Both Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh have submitted their trade lists. This isn’t a false alarm, these players are going to be traded.

The trade action could start as soon as today. The proverbial shoe is going to drop soon, as players like Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, and David Desharnais are sent packing for picks. However the biggest pieces will see a massive bidding war that will test GM, Jeff Gorton’s ability to extract maximum value for Nash, McDonagh, and quite possibly Zuccarello.

If Nashville really wants Rick Nash that bad, then they need to pay up. Rumors have Nashville prospect Dante Fabbro as someone that could interest the Rangers. Still the Rangers organization already has a lot of defense prospects. The Predators lost in the Stanley Cup final last year, if they really want Nash who could be picked up by rival St. Louis or Dallas, then the price has to be scoring winger, Eeli Tolvanen.

As for McDonagh, the price for him is said to be high, and it should be. It is also very likely the Rangers do not move him at the deadline unless maximum value is extracted. The wise move is to wait until the draft and see what you could get for him then. Make no mistake here though, if the Rangers decide to move a 27 year old, top pair defenseman with a year remaining on his contract, it will be likely be on deadline day after a massive bidding war.

Correction: McDonagh is 28.

The final wrinkle in all of this could be a trade that comes out of nowhere. Something that many didn’t see coming, like moving a J.T. Miller or Chris Kreider. What if a blockbuster with Edmonton is brewing for Leon Draisaitl? The 6’2″, 215 lb, 22 year old center is a star. A legit #1 center in the NHL that would flourish in the Eastern Conference. From last season to this season, he is averaging .94 points per game. Even at a cap hit of 8.5M until 2025, he is a steal.

The Last Days of Vigneault

The Rangers know how good AV has been for the organization. To his credit, the biggest team accomplishments came under his guidance. Of the 98 playoffs games since 2011, he was the coach in 61 of them. He was the perfect fit for a veteran team to take over for John Tortorella.

Now that the organization has committed to a rebuild, they know that developing youth is not a strength of Vigneault’s. It is time to move on and it may happen after the deadline if they want to promote Keith McCambridge of Hartford to the NHL on an interim basis.

Otherwise, they may simply allow AV the dignity of finishing the season before moving on. Just understand that unless this entire rebuild is an elaborate farce, the Rangers need a young and innovative coach for this new era of hockey they are embarking on. AV simply is not that and the wolves have come for him too.