It was an uncharacteristically slow trade deadline day in the NHL, perhaps because so many teams are still fighting for playoff spots, but the Rangers managed to make a splash just before the final bell rang. They acquired defenseman Derek Morris from Phoenix for forwards Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin.
That seems like a lot to give up but the additions of Sean Avery and, in a Wednesday trade with Toronto, Nik Antropov made for a crowd on the wings, and on the salary ledger, in Rangerland. Prucha had been a healthy scratch more often than not this season, much to the dismay of many fans, and Dawes wasn't a top-six forward by any stretch of the imagination. Morris is a big upgrade from Kalinin, and should immediately take a spot in one of the first two pairings with the Rangers.
He may also see time on their moribund power play. He has only scored one point with the man advantage this season, but has been a bigger contributor for most of his career. The Coyotes' power play is just as bad as the Rangers', but they've got enough talent in New York that Morris could see a boost to that facet of his game.
Antropov, who cost a second-round pick, should also help the power play, his six goals with an extra man would place him second on the team, and his 21 total goals are more than anyone currently wearing a blueshirt. Given John Tortorella's penchant for riding his best players, Antropov should be in line for a ton of ice time and his finishing ability should prove to be a help down the stretch.
Both players are free agents after the season, and if they don't work out Glen Sather will get criticized for giving up so much for a pair of rentals. He would have been killed if he'd done nothing to shore up the team for the playoff drive as well, of course, because he's done much to earn the ire of Rangers fans throughout his tenure. Antropov and Morris won't quiet those voices if they turn out great, nor should they, but when you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, what's the harm in trying?