Get scores, analysis and updates on the Rangers, the pride of Madison Square Garden

It's Decision Weekend for the Rangers

Two games to go before the trade deadline

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Tortorella and company have three days to plot their future.

    The decision to make a trade that shakes up a team sitting on top of the Eastern Conference isn't one to be taken lightly.

    The fact that the Rangers haven't pulled the trigger on a move for Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash or anyone else at this point is a sign that they understand the magnitude of the choice they have to make.

    They are waiting out the market to see what develops in terms of Columbus' demands as well as waiting to see what messages the current roster sends about their fitness for a run at the Stanley Cup.

    Waiting time is almost over, though. The deadline is Monday afternoon and the Rangers won't have another chance to patch their holes once it passes.

    The concerns about the team should be taken seriously, particularly their near-total ineffectiveness on the power play and their shortage of scoring options up front. To win a Stanley Cup you need great goaltending, a deep roster, the ability to win physical battles and strong special teams play.

    Right now, the Rangers are well situated on the first three counts and they've got good penalty killers. The power play issue is a glaring weakness, though, and it is one that will be highlighted come the playoffs as those opportunities take on a greater significance as games get tighter.

    That's why Nash is such an appealing player for this year's Rangers team. He can give them another even-strength scoring threat while also making the power play more potent down the stretch and into the postseason.

    Making the prospect of a trade an even more enticing is the way the Rangers have played in the last three games. They've looked pretty tired and you'd be forgiven for wondering if the team has reached a plateau that they'll be hard-pressed to push through in the weeks to come.

    With two games this weekend -- Friday on Long Island and Saturday against the Sabres -- the Rangers will have more of an idea of where the team stands before the deadline. It would be foolish to take any short snapshot of the season as a reason to make (or not make) a trade, but the problems that Nash would solve have been bothering the Rangers all season.

    Hoping that someone currently on the roster will emerge to make things better is a risky proposition, especially when one such player, Brandon Dubinsky, would be part of the package that brings Nash to New York. You have to assume that the players you have are going to pretty much remain the players that they've been all season,

    Warts and all, that level has been enough for the team to find themselves with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Rolling the dice on this group figuring things out, while also keeping a deep core for the future, is certainly a defensible position.

    There are risks either way and we'll have a better idea which ones the Rangers are willing to take after this weekend's games.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.