The New York Rangers are in a fierce competition for one of the three guaranteed playoff spots from the Metropolitan Division, and, with the team under .500 as the midway point in the season nears, a change to the team’s blue line might be the first move general manager Glen Sather makes.
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, “League executives say Rangers GM Glen Sather has been working the phones trying to move several players — including blueliners Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi — in an attempt to try get his struggling club on track.”
As a staple of the Rangers’ blue line, trading Girardi would severely weaken the team’s defense unless another veteran is brought in. The 31-year-old blocks shots, kills penalties, excels against the opposing team’s best forwards and provide 20-30 points each year.
Even though the salary cap is expected to be around $70 million next season, the Rangers have 13 free agents to consider re-signing before July, including captain Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Del Zotto, Girardi and others. It’s unlikely that all of those players will be back on Broadway in 2014-15. Per Garrioch, the Rangers “may be starting to see what they can get in case they can’t sign [Girardi].”
If New York trades any of these defensemen, it wouldn’t be surprising if a top-six or top-nine forward is part of the return package. The Blueshirts rank 26th in goals scored and several of its top forwards, including Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan have struggled to put up points consistently.