Sooooo it hasn't exactly been the most exciting 24 hours leading up to the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline, but with the clock ticking down as we near closer to the 3 p.m. mark, trades will be made - they always are. However, in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, very few teams are out of playoff contention right now, and they are hesitant when it comes to letting go of marquee players because of that. I think it's likely that we see a few general managers loosen up as they day goes on and the phone calls pour in, but I'm not counting on as active of a day as we've seen in years past.
As for the New York Rangers, news broke last night that GM Glen Sather was removing his club from the Rick Nash sweepstakes unless Columbus GM Scott Howson elects to lower the asking price for the top-notch power forward. It is believed that the Jackets are still seeking one of Michael Del Zotto or Ryan McDonagh, or maybe even perhaps college prospect Chris Kreider, despite the Rangers making it clear that all of those names are "untouchable" and will not be going anywhere. I'm fully on board with Sather's decision if that is the case, because as I've stated in the past, there's absolutely no reason that the organization should jeopardize its future to get their hands on one player.
Right now it's a staring contest between Howson and Sather, and when it comes to trades, Glen simply doesn't blink. So it's up to Howson to give-in if he feels a desperate need to part ways with Nash, which, technically, he does not since there's always the summer. But remember, no other team in the NHL had on offer on the table as juicy as the proposal laid out by New York. Will anyone else be stepping up to the plate in the next few hours? It's doubtful, and I'm not buying that many more will this summer, either. Nash is good, but......
Rick Nash isn't the only player rumored to be on the Rangers' radar. Buffalo center Paul Gaustad's name has also been linked to the Blueshirts lately, as he'd serve as a depth option for the club as they prepare to enter the playoffs in just over a month. Gaustad, 30, has seven goals and 10 assists in 56 games played with the Sabres this season, and also will drop the gloves just as he did with Brandon Prust Saturday night at MSG. He carries a $2.3 million cap hit, but will become an unrestricted free agent come July 1. For a playoff rental, he might just be worth it. I'll tell you right now, he'll add more to the lineup than Brian Boyle has this season.
Speaking of forwards, Mike Knuble of the Washington Capitals seems to me like he would be a perfect fit under coach Tortorella here in New York. Knuble is a gritty, hard-nosed winger that you can put into any situation and expect him to make an impact. He never shies away from going to the net and could help on the powerplay in that way. Knuble, to me, is one of those role players that can play an important role in winning a championship, and he comes with just a $2 million contract, which also expires this summer.
The Rangers are also exploring options when it comes to adding a depth defenseman, and one that could potentially help out the powerplay. We'll turn to a familiar face for this one with Sheldon Souray of the Dallas Stars. Why familiar? Well, if you remember last year, the Rangers were rumored to have interest in Souray for an entire two weeks leading up to the deadline. However, nothing ever came of it because Souray was diagnosed with a hand injury of some sort that would keep him out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
But a year later, Sather has not forgotten the 35-year-old Souray and what he would add to the Rangers' blue-line. Souray has 14 points on the season (5 goals, 14 assists), which would automatically make him fourth on the Rangers among defenseman in scoring. Yet again, he would only be a rental as he becomes a UFA this summer, and he only would add a $1.65 million cap hit to the Rangers' payroll. That slap shot of his is so appetizing for the powerplay.
Lastly, many of you have been asking me about Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown. While GM Dean Lombardi may have, at one point, had Brown available on the trade block, that does not appear to be the case anymore. Both Lombardi and Brown himself expect to continue their marriage beyond today's deadline.
The list of names suggested above may not be of the magnitude of Rick Nash's, but you must remember that the Rangers have had extreme amounts of success this season with what they already have. Therefore, it may be better suited for them to make small, rental additions that will pay off in the playoffs. The asking prices required for blockbuster trades this deadline are outrageous and I think it would be in the best interests of GM Sather and the Rangers to steer far wide of those.
* I'll have everything Ranger-related covered throughout the day leading up to 3 p.m., so be sure to periodically stop by the blog and also keep tabs on my Twitter (@NickMonteRT) for the latest.