Originally written on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 6/19/12

ST. LOUIS, MO. - JANUARY 12: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Bluejackets waits for a face-off against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on January 12, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

By Alexander Monaghan

“He’s gonna be a good player. And we don’t trade kids.” – Glen Sather on Chris Kreider

Following the New York Rangers’ demoralizing Eastern Conference Finals loss, the team’s president and general manager remained true to the cause. His team finished the season with 12 homegrown studs and an average age of 28. If he stays the course, his Rangers should be a contender for years.

However, making it to within six games of the Stanley Cup placed the Holy Grail in most fans’ eyes. The fans saw how close they could be with a little extra scoring; A messiah like Zach Parise, Rick Nash, Evander Kane, or any other forward that can pot 30 goals would push them over the top and into the Promised Land.

The once monumental price for Nash – believed to include Kreider, Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto, as well as Derek Stepan or Carl Hagelin, and an assortment of picks and prospects – remains just that: monumental. But the price tag fans are willing to pay certainly increased as they desperately long for the first Stanley Cup since 1994. Brandon Dubinsky might as well hold his bags at John F. Kennedy Airport if fans get their way; other promising kids like J.T. Miller, Dylan McIlrath, and Tim Erixon are considered good as gone in the mind of the armchair GM, especially since they’ve either barely played or haven’t played in the big leagues.

If Sather is willing to part with all of these assets, why is Nash not currently in Ranger blue? Over his tenure, Sather could be considered many things but most of all he’s mastered the art of the trade. He can simultaneously be the frontrunner for Nash while pursuing Parise (come July 1st; no tampering), Kane, or whatever other forward is widely available. Furthermore, the decision to trade young assets will be weighed by not only Sather and assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld but also the coaching staff that needed these players during the regular season. If John Tortorella can’t part with Hagelin or Kreider, the Rangers, simply put, won’t.

By that same token, the price for Nash legitimately went up since February’s trade deadline. The Rangers can part with more players now and simply plug holes via free agency. Sather also could use more scoring with the inopportune injury to Marian Gaborik, which could keep him out for up to three months. The team’s presence in a sere solely relies on scoring more than they did during last year’s playoffs. Or at least that is the current outlook.

Additionally, the age of his more established players like Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, and Gaborik greatly exceed the average age of the homegrown kids. So is Sather building for the future, or now?

The price in both dollars and players should, and likely will, remain steep if the Rangers want to make headlines and acquire Nash. Whether the Rangers want to win now or in the future is also a big question, and one that doesn’t necessarily need to be answered right now.

After all of their success over the last two seasons, Sather needs to find a way to keep the core mentality in check. He shouldn’t trade for Nash if, in turn, his roster turns into that of the Columbus Blue Jackets. By that same token, is adding a secondary guy like Jiri Hudler or Alexander Semin enough to push this team over the top? These questions, and more, should be answered in this year’s edition of NHL Offseason.

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