Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The case for the Rangers to be buyers looks something like this:
First, while the Rangers have struggled, this team is built for the playoffs They have a top goaltender. They have offensive stars in Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan.
The Rangers also have some top defenders—if Marc Staal is able to come back, even better.
If the Rangers can complement that core with a few key pieces, then there's no reason why they can't make a Cup run.
One of those pieces could be Dan Boyle. Boyle, who won a Stanley Cup with John Tortorella in 2004, is not quite the same player he was. But he's still productive, as he has five goals and 11 assists. He would provide an instant boost to the power play and would fill a need in the top-four defensemen.
The Rangers could also look to acquire Ryane Clowe, a terrific grinder with 11 assists this season. Although he has no goals, he did score 17 last year and has a career high of 24. Clowe would be a great addition on the third line, adding grit and energy for a team that has often lacked it.
If Clowe is unattainable, then perhaps Steve Ott would be a nice alternative. He has five goals and 13 assists and would also provide a punch of energy.
He may be 40 years old, but Jaromir Jagr could provide some desperate offense and punch on the power play. The legendary winger has 14 goals and 12 assists. He has nine points on the power play.
Any one of these moves would help the Rangers. The team really needs to improve its grit and energy, which is why Clowe and/or Ott would be appealing. With Clowe having a down year, he certainly wouldn't be too expensive—perhaps a mid-to-late-round pick. Ott would be more expensive, probably requiring at least a second-round pick.
Boyle would also be expensive. He is scheduled to make $6.6 million through next season, and with the cap going down next year, the Rangers would have to send salary back.
That said, the Rangers cannot make a playoff run with Steve Eminger as their fourth defenseman, so taking on the money might not be the worst idea.
Yes, the Eastern Conference is stacked, but the Rangers do have, on paper at least, one of the most talented teams in the league. The Rangers have had issues with slow starts—adding someone like Clowe could fix that.
The Rangers don't have to mortgage their future to do this. They need just a few key pieces to kick themselves into gear. It's certainly doable.