There is no denying the fact that the Atlantic Division is one of—if not the most—competitive and talented divisions in the NHL. Outside of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, there are the New Jersey Devils, who just reached the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who arguably have the two best players in the NHL in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you have heard that the Philadelphia Flyers offered superstar defenseman Shea Weber an offer sheet reportedly worth $110 million dollars over 14 years.
The Nashville Predators have until Wednesday to decide whether or not they want to match the offer laid out by the Flyers. While there is still speculation as to whether or not that is going to happen, the Rangers need to respond to their division rivals.
The three names that come to mind here are Shane Doan, Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash.
Shane Doan is perhaps the most coveted name left on the free-agency market, and while he has taken his time weighing his options, the New York Rangers really need to make a serious move for the 35-year-old star.
The New York Daily News reported that Shane Doan finally stepped out of Arizona and made his first official trip of free agency on Friday. The team he chose to visit first? None other than the New York Rangers.
There are so many different ways that the Rangers could utilize the talents of Doan, and every way would improve their team on the offensive and defensive end. He would more than likely be placed on the wing with Brad Richards in the middle and either Marian Gaborik or captain Ryan Callahan on the other side.
Who should the Rangers pursue first?
The Rangers' power play ranked 23rd in the NHL, and Doan would be helpful on the man advantage. Over the last eight seasons, he has 77 power-play goals, including 17 during the 2005-06 season.
The Rangers have the room to make a substantial offer to Doan. If Weber were to go play for the Flyers, it would be an excellent statement to sign Doan, and would level them out for the meantime.
The other name on the list is Bobby Ryan.
The similarities between Ryan and Doan are eerie, except for the fact that Ryan is 10 years younger, which would make him the more suitable fit for the future. He would help on the power play as well, and would be another dynamic player on the wing for the Rangers.
The only problem here is that Ryan is not officially on the market and the Blueshirts would have to give up a few players to get him into their lineup. Over the last four seasons, he has averaged 62 points per season and could be that one guy who would push the Rangers over the top and into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Last but not least, the biggest name that has been on the trade market since the deadline, Rick Nash.
Columbus' general manager, Scott Howson, has a really high asking price for Nash, but the Rangers might just have exactly what he could be looking for.
Columbus would want at least a few forwards in the deal. The Rangers could send off guys like Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky or Carl Hagelin (two of those, not all of them). Throw in a 2013 or 2014 first-round draft pick and the deal could happen.
In conclusion, Shea Weber is more than likely going to become a Flyer when Wednesday rolls around. The Rangers cannot just sit back and watch the team that they barely edged by six points last year during the regular season be the only one making a big move.
If they sit back and watch the teams around them make the deals, it is going to be difficult for them to repeat as the champions of the Eastern Conference.