Rick Nash was thought to be that forward, but trade talk has quieted to a whisper mainly because the Rangers have a lot of confidence in their youth development and don't want to forfeit valuable young players to acquire Nash.
Instead, the Rangers plan on breaking the bank in the relatively thin 2012 free agency pool to find that impact forward.
Rangers GM Glen Sather told the New York Post, "The closer to the top you are, you have to be a little more aggressive if you want to get better. If you trade, you have to give away assets, but in free agency you’re just giving away money and [taking] the chance the cap might shrink."
“I think we’re going to try to be as aggressive as possible in the free agent market.”
This statement from Sather is exciting for Rangers fans because it indicates that the Rangers are prepared to do exactly what it takes to improve, as long as those steps don't jeopardize the excellent young nucleus of Rangers talent.
Youth combined with proven goal scoring is available in free agent Zach Parise. At just 27 years old, the Devils captain led his team to the Stanley Cup Finals and had an excellent regular season, contributing 31 goals and 38 assists, while playing in all 82 games.
Parise has adamantly stated that he does not want to play for the Rangers, but money talks and the Rangers will make a lucrative offer to Parise. My hunch is that Parise sticks to his word, but in the past, public statements have been retracted once a check has been signed.
Assuming Parise stays west of the Hudson River, the Rangers need an alternative. Here are five guys that could help the Rangers reach the top.