The trade deadline has passed with a whimper, not a bang, for the Rangers.
Although they were rumored to be in the running for a deal that would bring scoring winger Rick Nash to Madison Square Garden, the Rangers mostly stood pat before Monday's trade deadline. There were a couple of minor deals, but if the team is going to win the Stanley Cup, it is going to be with the same players that have brought them to first place in the Eastern Conference at this point in the season.
The Rangers swung a deal for hulking Blackhawks defenseman John Scott just before the 3 p.m. deadline on Monday and dealt spare part Wojtek Wolski to Florida on Sunday, but they didn't make a deal that figures to have a heavy impact on their pursuit of the Cup in the short term. That's not necessarily a bad thing, not with the Blue Jackets asking the moon and the stars for Nash, but it does put pressure on a team that's been inconsistent of late to find their way.
Scott, acquired for a fifth-round pick, has great size (6-8, 270 pounds) that he used to good advantage in a fight with new teammate Mike Rupp at the Garden earlier this month. Scott only played in 29 games for the Hawks this season and it's hard to see who he would replace as a regular part of the lineup in New York and he obviously doesn't do anything to help the team score more goals at even strength or on the power play.
Wolski, who battled injuries and ineffectiveness on his way to becoming a regular scratch, was dealt for a third-round pick, clearing cap space that it seemed the Rangers would use to bring in more firepower for the stretch run and postseason. That may have been Glen Sather's idea, but we'll have to wait until the offseason to see if that savings pays off in a meaningful addition.
It will be interesting to see if the Rangers call up defenseman Tim Erixon from Hartford or use forward Chris Kreider when Boston College's season comes to an end. Both players were rumored to be on the Blue Jackets' wishlist in a deal for Nash, but the Rangers didn't want to deal them even after making a late push for a player that would have shaken up their roster.
Now it will be up to the players on hand to step up their game to make sure the Rangers close strong, win the Atlantic Division and make good on the show of faith in them that Sather made by eschewing any big deals. Chief among the players who need to turn things up is Brandon Dubinsky, who has just six goals this year and was believed to be a cornerstone of any deal for Nash.
If Dubinsky can find his scoring touch and John Tortorella finds the right combination on the power play, the Rangers will be looking good this year and they will be loaded with talent for the near future. If things continue along the same lines, though, the Rangers' unwillingness to pull the trigger will be seen as the reason why a prime opportunity to win fell by the wayside.
It was a gamble either way, but Sather decided to play the hand he already had and now it is up to the players to make it pay off.