For the third year in a row, the New York Rangers will be looking to add pieces for a Stanley Cup run at the trade deadline. In Vol. 1 of the trade deadline preview, we looked at the Rangers’ best options to acquire for their top line. Here in Vol. 2, we will look at perhaps an even more crucial (and realistic) area of improvement for this team: the bottom six. While no one expects the bottom six to carry this team, they have fallen short of expectations this year. If the Rangers are serious about a Stanley Cup run, they have to make at least one move to add some scoring and speed to the bottom of their lineup.
The Rangers been on a bit of rollercoaster in terms of roster news in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break. First, the team announced that Nick Bonino, who had played 45 games this year, was placed on waivers on January 25th. Then, after returning to practice with the team, Filip Chytil fell to the ice during an optional skate on January 26th and sustained an unspecified injury. Chytil’s setback, which seems to be related to the concussion he has been working his way back from, will end his season. The heartbreaking news leaves the Rangers and Chris Drury with two concerns, one, most importantly, for Chytil’s well-being and one for how they will improve a team that has been struggling for almost two months now.
With Chytil done for the year, the Rangers’ bottom six projects to look like this going forward:
Cuylle - Brodzinski - Wheeler
Vesey - Goodrow - Pitlick
It is no secret that this is a group that has struggled to score or put any pressure on opponents. Bonino, Barclay Goodrow, Jonny Brodzinski, and Tyler Pitlick have combined for just five goals, and none of the Rangers’ spot call ups have been able to provide much offense. Jimmy Vesey (9-5-14P in 47G) and Will Cuylle (8-6-14P in 49G) have been the only bright spots, but even Vesey has tailed off after scoring seven goals in 19 games between 11/4 and 12/15. There is no doubt that there is improvement to be had. Let’s dive into some of guys that would instantly make the Rangers’ bottom six more dangerous.