Rangers still in the mix for Clowe

The speculation around Ryane Clowe’s future in San Jose ratcheted up a notch when he sat out as a healthy scratch during the Sharks’ tilt against the Vancouver Canucks Monday night.

And there seems little chance those trade rumors will abate any time soon.

With less than 24 hours until the NHL trade deadline Wednesday at 3 p.m. a number of clubs remain interested in Clowe.

The Rangers are one of those teams, as ESPNNewYork.com reported last week, and they are believed to be among the front-runners still in the mix for the pending unrestricted free agent.

Although Clowe’s production leaves something to be desired -- the 30-year-old winger has yet to score his first goal of the season -- the Rangers like his gritty style of play. That’s been an element conspicuously absent from the Rangers' game of late with the Blueshirts sorely missing some of the more rugged and versatile middle-of-the-lineup players that bolstered their lineup last season.

Clowe’s four-year, $14.5 million expires at the end of this season, but he does not necessarily have to be a true rental. He may prefer to go to a club with which there is a good opportunity to re-sign, a possibility the Rangers are open to as well.

Clowe has a no-trade clause, so he will be in the driver’s seat should Sharks general manager Doug Wilson find a suitable trade partner.

"I'm aware of what's going on and anything happening with me has to go through me, so we'll see," Clowe told local reporters on Monday. "I don't want to give a percentage or anything. Would I be surprised? Probably not. I wouldn't be shocked.”

The Rangers are also interested in veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, but Wilson’s asking price may prove to be prohibitive. To add his $6.67 million cap hit (he is signed through 2013-14), the Rangers would need the Sharks to take salary back as well.

Marian Gaborik would be a player the Rangers are open to moving, though his struggles this season have likely tempered interest across the league. Brian Boyle is also believed to be available, though his production has tapered this season.

With a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night, the Rangers retained their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They host the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.