Rangers Must Look to Trades, Not Free Agency This Summer

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJune 10, 2009

CHICAGO - MARCH 01: Jack Johnson #3 of the Los Angeles Kings skates up the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 1, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Te Blackhawks defeated the Kings 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

This coming offseason the New York Rangers will be looking at a massive overhaul. Their wants will be to get bigger, stronger, and faster, along with adding more of a scoring touch.

It has been suggested the answer to the Rangers' problems will be adding one of the two superstar wingers on the market in Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa. Signing one of the aforementioned is possible, but not likely.

The Rangers' salary cap situation is still pretty bad, although not as terrible as people want to think it is. The recent retirement of Markus Naslund will do wonders for the Blueshirts this offseason.

I have also said in previous articles the Rangers should sign multiple lower-tier free agents instead of throwing the checkbook and giving a longer term deal to one superstar free agent. This is also very possible, but if you expect to see the Rangers bring in a high priced star, you can be sure that it will come by trade.

Expect the Rangers to make a push for Vincent Lecavalier, a player who excelled and came into his own under John Tortorella in Tampa Bay. To make the trade they would have to give up the coveted Marc Staal.

But he would not be the only player in the deal—to afford it, the Rangers would have to include one of their higher priced players, but which would Tampa Bay want, if any? From a Rangers' standpoint choosing between any in the "Fab Four" as they have been nicknamed by fans, is like deciding between shooting yourself in the right foot or the left. But maybe the Lightning see something in Michal Rozsival.

The next trade scenario involves the Los Angeles Kings. It recently came out that defense man Jack Johnson is unhappy with his situation and may be requesting a trade out. The Rangers should be looking to make a move for him, especially if they plan to deal Marc Staal.

Johnson could be had for, along with a draft pick, the Rangers first round pick, Bobby Sanguinetti, and the rights to restricted free agent Nikolai Zherdev. The Kings have also come out and said that they will be in the market for a center. How would Scott Gomez look in black and silver?

The next two players the Rangers will make a push for are Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. San Jose's lack of playoff success makes them willing to part with Marleau. They would be wanting a center in return, someone who has playoff success and can come through in the clutch. Just throwing this out there but, Chris Drury's second choice before signing with the Rangers was San Jose.

Getting to Heatley, yesterday ESPN's E.J Hradek reported that Heatley wants out of Ottawa. His agent has now said  he has no preference as to where he is dealt, but has a no trade clause in his contract so he would have to give the final say before any deal is completed. It is unlikely that Ottawa will deal him to a team in the Eastern Conference, but anything is possible. Technically speaking, the Rangers could afford Heatley by sending Brandon Dubinsky, Bobby Sanguinetti, and Dan Girardi. Not that those would be the exact players, but look for a deal along those lines if something does happen.

Now with every trade mentioned, the Rangers are giving up a young defense man. This notion will send fans into nightmarish flashbacks of the dark ages in the franchise's history where they traded youth for experience and ended up giving the team a seven year playoff drought. But the situation has changed—if the Rangers are blessed with one thing, it is defensive depth. If they decide to part with Sanguinetti, who has not yet played an NHL game, Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy can fill the void.

The coming weeks heading into the draft and early July are sure to be very interesting and intriguing to say the least.

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