39-17-7 (85 points)
2nd place Metro Division
4th place Eastern Conference
#3 Conference Scoring
#2 Conference Defense
NEW YORK RANGERS: Glen Sather Earns Two Points For Making Savvy Trades At Deadline.
Hello, Killjoy here again...
Had I written immediately after the Rangers defeated the Predators, this narrative might have sounded very differently. But I didn't.
At the time, the Rangers beat a team that lost their previous 2 games. Nashville has now lost 5 in a row, and were outscored 19-10 over that stretch. Taking it further, the Predators are 2-7 in their last 9 games, and not only did they lose to the Rangers, they fell to the Devils and Islanders as well.
That's another way of saying the western conference Predators appeared more fearsome from afar, because the team that recently visited the metropolitan area looked and played like pussycats. They're obviously in the midst of a poor spell.
Trending? The Rangers also failed to follow up two key victories in a proper manner. They left a point on the ice against the Canucks after defeating the Islanders, and left another point on the ice against the Red Wings after the Predators.
It's hard to pooh-pooh a quick taste of first place though. With 3 games in hand and one game left against Long Island, Tex's Rangers have the Islanders fixed in their cross hairs.
They'll proceed forward surprisingly well refortified too.
While I anticipated a quiet trading period for the Rangers thinking Glen Sather generally handicapped himself with his overall salary cap management, he somehow still managed a day worthy of appreciation.
The Rangers acquired offensive defenseman Keith Yandle, along with Chris Summers and a 2016 #4 pick from Phoenix in return for prospect Anthony Duclair, defenseman John Moore, a 2015 #2 pick and a 2016 #1 pick.
Even Killjoy is very high on this trade.
John Moore in particular was becoming a liability, and failed to mesh with Kevin Hayes or Dan Boyle to form an effective third line. Thus the addition of Yandle corrects a major malfunction - the third defensive pair. This now gives the Rangers three very solid reliable lines, potentially improves the power play, and perhaps the overall offensive contribution from the blueliners as well.
The money works too. Keith Yandle will not be an unrestricted free agent until the 2016-17 season, and Phoenix is absorbing half of his salary cap hit.
Of course, it's always nice to have motivated sellers like the Coyotes to deal with. Nevertheless, this is a good trade for both teams. Phoenix is going full-blown rebuild and secured themselves a top prospect to move forward with. The Rangers were arguably a defenseman and a big center away from being true Eastern Conference favorites, and were in position to move such a touted prospect as Duclair to facilitate such improvements.
In a separate trade, the Rangers also acquired James Sheppard and Carl Klingberg for Lee Stempniak.
Klingberg is an inexperienced 24-year old winger taken early in the 2nd round of the 2009 entry draft. The hook, and someone I think can be a real sleeper is center James Sheppard. He was the 9th overall selection of the 2006 entry draft taken by Minnesota. He's 26-years old, and listed at 6'1" and 215 pounds. He'll fit nicely on the 4th line, and provide much needed size. However, the knock on him is that he does not use said size effectively. He better learn quick - he's in the Eastern Conference now. But, I would certainly agree he's an improvement over Stempniak in both size and potential contribution.
Glen Sather still wasn't done. Although odd, his initial effort to trade Mats Zuccarello instead wound up becoming a 3-year contract extension for the small forward. I'm not sure I agree with resigning MatsZucs, but I seem to be in the minority.
The Rangers have now played 15 games and earned 21 points in Henrik Lundqvist's absence. Cam Talbot has started 14 of those, and thus far posted a 9-2-3 record, which includes a shutout over the Flames. The Rangers have averaged 3.3 goals for him, while Talbot has limited the opposition to 2.6 goals per game.