New York Rangers: When will the rebuild end?

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NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 03: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers tends the net against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden on February 3, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers are currently kicking a can around in Roster Purgatory. With the Trade Deadline less than two weeks away, the Blueshirts find themselves in a strikingly similar scenario to that of last year: Cap Hell, Roster Purgatory, and the fanbase wondering where they are in this rebuilding process.

The New York Rangers are currently nine points outside of a wild card spot, but (excluding Detroit…) are still closer to the bottom than the top. The team still has too much money tied up in Glen Sather‘s leftovers and the answer to – “Can this team make a serious run at the Cup?” – is still the same.

Regardless if you like the team ( and they are a likable bunch) this team is not a contender by any sense of the word. They’ll win your heart, but not a championship.

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Rangers are again asking, “Are we buying or are we selling? Are we staying steadfast? Are we blowing up the ship?” A lot of questions; a lot of unknowns.

So what do we know?

The franchise

Never say never, but unless the trade of a life time rears its pessimistic Punxsutawney Phil of a head from the heavens above or if Jeff Gorton has a few too many ‘soda pops’ right before the trade deadline, these players aren’t going anywhere.

  • Artemi Panarin – unless you’re a politician, you don’t pay a man nearly $12 million dollars for him to go away, especially if he’s a candidate for league MVP; plus he has a no movement clause… so there’s that.

    and Artemi Panarins react after scoring a goal in the first period against the Hurricanes

 

  • Mika Zibanejad – no movement clause, but would there even be a debate here? He’s currently sporting a 1.15 PPG and has three shorthanded goals on the season. There’s a strong case for him to be the next captain.
  • Adam Fox – he’s currently sixth in rookie scoring and shows an offensive upside, while still playing steady defense. He’s only 22, he wanted to be a Rangers, he’s only going to improve and he’s under rookie contract and team control for the next five seasons.
  • Jacob Trouba – has he been outstanding? Not really. Has he lived up to his $8 million per year? No, but he has been solid and he’s been a leader and when the team finally forms its identity, he’s sure to be a core member of its framework. He also has a no movement clause, so again the Blueshirts are committed to the man.
  • Kaapo Kakko – he finally popped the seal against the Kings the other night. He’s played better as of late, but the second-overall pick isn’t living up to hype just yet.  The the only thing that makes this hurt a little less, is that Jack Hughes hasn’t been any better. Regardless, it’s far too early to sling malice on the teenager. His talent is there, he’s just not a downhill skater yet. However, when he puts the pieces together, he’ll be the next Mikko Rantanen.

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