The New York Rangers are at an intriguing and complex crossroad that not many teams ever face during the middle of a season. Half the team is here to win now, and the other half has rebuilding mode written all over it. It looks good on paper; rebuild one part of the team and put skill and experience on the other, but unfortunately, it isn't working for the Blueshirts, who slipped to 14-15-2 with a loss to the Buffalo Sabres tonight on Garden ice.
Tonight actually marks the first time since December 8, 2002 that the Rangers were under five-hundred at the 31-game mark in the season. Bryan Trottier was the coach then, and he met his fate soon after this point. Will Tortorella suffer the same?
It is because of nothing going right that the Rangers need to stop and just think about what they actually want from this season. Do they think that with a few tweaks they can turn it around and be a legitimate playoff team? Or do they know that all is lost and now is the time for a complete rebuild?
If the Rangers want to save this season, then they must first acquire an experienced back-up goalie and a crease clearing defenseman. Those are the top priorities, and in that order.
The Islanders will be looking to move Martin Biron in the next few weeks when Rick DiPietro makes his return. Glen Sather needs to jump on this opportunity to land the experienced former starter (who makes $1.1 million). Because the Islanders would most likely not be willing to trade to an interstate rival, Sather will have to make them a sweet offer, but it must be done.
The Oilers are also said to be shopping Sheldon Souray, who quarterbacks a powerplay with one of the hardest shots in the league and also hits and fights. Tom Renney loved Michal Rozsival, so perhaps an even swap may be in order.
However, if the Rangers feel that they should just give up on this season and go into a full rebuild, two things need to happen. The first would be the waiving of Michal Rozsival to Hartford. This would not even be done to give the "kids" a chance, but just to clear his salary off the books. The Rangers have actually done a great job in rebuilding their defense, as they currently have four homegrown players under 25 and have played six all together this season.
The second transaction that needs to happen is the buyout of Chris Drury. Of course this is completely unrealistic, but so is Sather conceding to a rebuild in the season after a complete roster turnover. Should the Rangers buyout Drury, they would save approximately $5.8 million next season and 2.8 the year after. But they would also be on the hook for $2.6 million in each of the following two years, but that is a chance they need to take.
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