As Sellers, Rangers Must be Patient and Embrace the Rebuild

There’s no longer any minutiae about whether or not the New York Rangers are going to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Admittedly, I’m one of the last adopters of the approach since, with a drearily weak Eastern Conference and a position in the playoffs, it was too early to forfeit this year at any point before the emotionless loss to Toronto. The players have packed it in, shown little battle, and decimated any hope of title contention this year. But this year’s trade deadline should be the start of New York’s rebuild, not the denouement.

Through April, assuming their Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs), at the least, are traded off, this is a tank roster, and that should, ultimately, be the goal for the rest of the year. If that’s the case, then Jeff Gorton & Co. must understand that there won’t be an immediate return and embrace a full rebuild next year as well. Tearing it down means not contending until at least 2020, as no return of picks and prospects will immediately bring back the influx of NHL-ready talent this team needs.

Why Grabner and Nash Should be Welcomed Back After Trades

There are 22 days before the NHL’s February 26th trading deadline – a date that will be remembered as an integral moment for future renditions of the New York Rangers. Through an unfortunate combination of seemingly never-ending injuries and a roster ill-equipped for a viable run at the Stanley Cup, this version will unequivocally be sellers, possibly of a great magnitude.

This can no longer be a matter for debate. With three regulation wins in their last 18 games, a minus-five goal differential, and a parade of players finding themselves on a growing Injured Reserve (IR) list, the cost-benefit analysis to keeping valuable deadline commodities like Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, and even Ryan McDonagh, is well in the red. Their collective market appraisals and the pending trades they necessitate will surely benefit the Rangers’ long-term goal of building another Cup-contending squad. Certainly more so than any fool-hearted attempt—no matter how emotionally satisfying—to salvage this particular sinking ship. It’s a lesson they probably should have learned last summer, but one they should be thoroughly convinced of by now.

The only debate from this point on should be over what the returns for each expendable player ought to look like and what their potential returns to Broadway this July as Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) might cost. Because, in the case of Grabner and Nash, that’s a factor to all of this that the Rangers need to be accounting for right now as revealed by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

Rangers Formally Request Rick Nash's No-Trade List

It’s happening! Well, hopefully. The first steps certainly are, as according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the New York Rangers have formally requested Rick Nash’s no-trade list:

In Wake of Injuries, Rangers Recall F Vinni Lettieri

In speaking with the media following last night’s loss to Nashville, Alain Vigneault said he expected another callup, and another callup he got. Following the loss of two more of his roster regulars, the Rangers again re-called forward Vinni Lettieri from the Hartford Wolf Pack:

Victims of Head Shots, Staal & Vesey Join Rangers' Injury Parade

Victims to two headshots—the one on Jimmy Vesey being especially viscious—the New York Rangers will likely be without the services of Marc Staal or Vesey for a while. What, you thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse?

Staal, who has a worrisome history of head injuries, was the first victim, taking a high hit to the head from Predators defenseman Alexei Emelin midway through the second period:

Quick Hits: Cue the Opening Bell

Welcome to a new feature (well, an old feature made new again) here at ClearedForContact: Quick Hits. Each Sunday, we’ll cover some of the recent happenings, statistics, and anecdotes from the previous week’s games, as well as touch on important goings-on around the NHL as a whole to cap off the week and to get your Monday mornings started.

Liquidate For Leverage

In and of itself, last Thursday night’s 4-0 loss to the Leafs was just a hockey game. But the Rangers’ listless effort and subsequent loss—their seventh in their last ten contests in which they’ve been collectively outscored 39 to 26—was more than just a game. It was a microcosm of this seemingly lost season. It was the most recent example that management need not have any reservations over whether this roster is a contender or a pretender when asking itself the tough questions regarding the trade market and their place in it ahead of the February 26th trading deadline.

One need not overly value the draft to recognize the cold reality staring the Rangers in the face, either. They can either foolishly pin their hopes to a severely flawed roster that would require a great amount of outside help to go deep in the playoffs, or they can take a poetic cue from Toronto and strategically sell the assets they still have to rebuild—emphasis on re—even if it is “on the fly.”

As I wrote about in late January, with a deep draft to look forward to, the assets the Rangers can no doubt acquire at the deadline and/or perhaps the draft floor should help them to move up the pick order. This will give them a golden opportunity to draft the game-breaking talent they desperately crave.

Rangers Inching Close To Signing Ty Ronning

Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver reported on Friday that the Rangers are having “good positive talks” with Vancouver Giants forward Ty Ronning.

The 20 year-old Ronning, a 7th round pick in 2016, currently has 44 goals in 50 games in with the Giants in the WHL. When his Giants season ended last year, he signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He netted two goals and three assists in his 12 games with the Pack.

Rangers Lose Pavel Buchnevich to Upper-Body Injury

Another one bites the dust. Already reeling at 4-6-0 in their last ten games coming into tonight’s losing “effort” against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers’ suffering appears to have no end in sight. In fact, it’s only gotten worse, with Pavel Buchnevich—the team’s second-leading scorer (tied)—now ostensibly on the shelf.

Shortly after taking a hit from Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner in the second period, the 22-year-old would leave the game with the Rangers later announcing he would not return:

New York Rangers Schedule Wallpaper – February 2018

There’s still a couple more days before the Rangers play their first game after the All-Star break, but with February just about here, it’s time to update your wallpaper accordingly.

Download it via the links below:

Quick Hits: Priming the Pump (and Dump)

Welcome to a new feature (well, an old feature made new again) here at ClearedForContact: Quick Hits. Each Sunday, we’ll cover some of the recent happenings, statistics, and anecdotes from the previous week’s games, as well as touch on important goings-on around the NHL as a whole to cap off the week and to get your Monday mornings started.

Righteous Indignation

Brendan Smith has every right to be seething at the NHL, or more specifically the Department of Player Safety, in the wake of being the victim of a vicious headshot from Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford this past week.

“I’m still shocked that nothing has happened,” Smith told The [New York] Post. “I think those kind of hits are what we’re trying to get out of the game. That’s what we’ve been harping on. So I don’t understand what’s going on at the moment. To me it’s a clear target of the head.”

This type of inaction is a prime example of why the CBA’s mandate that an injury on the play heavily factors into the decision to apply supplemental discipline or not, and it needs to be collectively bargained out at the next negotiations. The practice is one that may have made some sense on paper when it was agreed to, but has proven impractical, if not utterly backwards, in reality – as the Clifford-Smith collision proves. After all, would we be having this conversation had Smith been concussed on the play? Or instead would we be debating the length of Clifford’s suspension?

If the NHL wants these types of headshots out of the game, then do so by legislating heavily against them, regardless of whether the victim gets up off the ice right away or not.