The New York Rangers made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring, and their ability to roll four lines consistently was a big reason they made it that far. However, the departure of some key contributors from that team -- namely Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle -- dealt a significant blow to the team's forward depth. Boasting an elite goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist and star winger Rick Nash, the Rangers still pose a threat in the East, but they'll need to address one obvious need at the trade deadline: a player who can bolster their bottom-six group of forwards. Status: BUYER
Available: Though a player such as the Arizona Coyotes' Antoine Vermette would be an ideal pickup for the Rangers, providing needed strength down the middle, it might be out of range this season with Don Maloney's reportedly steep asking price for the 32-year-old rental. Toronto Maple Leafs pending UFA Mike Santorelli could be a more cost-appropriate alternative for the Rangers. The Los Angeles Kings have a tight cap situation and a number of players they need to sign this summer, including Justin Williams, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. So would general manager Dean Lombardi be willing to part with Jarret Stoll? If so, that could be an intriguing option. Stoll, a pending unrestricted free agent, is an effective depth player who can win faceoffs and kill penalties. Nate Thompson still has two years after this season remaining on a four-year, $6.4 million deal, but the gritty fourth-liner would be a nice addition if the Anaheim Ducks were willing to move him. Jiri Tlusty was held out of practice by the Carolina Hurricanes with a potential head injury this past week, but the 26-year-old Czech winger could be another player to watch if he can prove he's healthy.
Finances: The Rangers do not have a ton of maneuverability when it comes to their salary-cap situation, so we might see a more subdued trade deadline than years past. According to NHLnumbers.com, the Rangers have about $1.5 million in cap space, which means they will probably be looking for a modest rental, unless they are willing to dump salary. They do have two pending UFAs in Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello who remain unsigned, but one source familiar to the team's thinking finds it "unlikely" that they would move either player. St. Louis, it should be noted, also has a full no-trade clause in his deal.
Scouting the GM: Glen Sather has never been one to shy away from making the bold, brazen move on deadline day. Last season, he dealt captain Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a swap that yielded St. Louis. The season prior, he landed coveted trade target Ryane Clowe from the San Jose Sharks. Sather also pulled off a blockbuster deal in 2012 to acquire Nash, albeit in the offseason. However, considering their cap commitment and the team's solid core, we think Sather will be a lot less busy on March 2.