For the better half of the last week, the New York Rangers have been sitting certain players and sending down certain players for “roster management” reasons. With a potential Patrick Kane deal on the horizon, as long as the team is able to bring in a championship-caliber player, it should all be worth it.
As long as the Rangers keep finding ways to win without having the entire team suffer serious injuries, then the recent decisions to make room for Kane will be justified, right?
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In the end, the long-term ramifications of the Rangers’ recent roster decisions will not yet be known as the trade deadline draws to an exciting close. Top playmakers like Timo Meier, Bo Horvat, and Ryan O’Reilly have already been moved.
New York got their hands on a top target themselves just a few weeks ago. The addition of Vladimir Tarasenko has helped the Rangers’ offense become a more complete and dangerous unit. Patrick Kane’s request to come to New York City has complicated matters though.
Originally thought to be able to just get one top target, the Rangers are on the cusp of getting two and having to pay the price for it with their cap manipulation to make a deal work.
New York can secure a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks by 5:00 pm today to have Kane count against the cap. With Ryan Lindgren’s current injury and Braden Schneider expected to be called up for Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia, the signs all point to a major move happening later this evening.
But what does this move mean for the other defenders who have clocked in over 20 minutes of ice time recently? How about the offensive players who have had to take shifts with players they normally don’t work with?
The Rangers are playing with fire on their recent roster decisions and have already gotten scared because of it. Lindgren is day-to-day after getting crashed into the boards by TJ Oshie. Mika Zibanejad also was hobbling after Sunday’s win and being hit in the ankle by a scorching puck.
Playing with just 16-18 skaters a night does damage to top players hat may need rest or can’t handle the amount of ice time increase that they’ve been dealing with. One could argue that injuries like this aren’t due to the Rangers’ tight roster construction, but that doesn’t mean another injury is avoidable.
The fact of the matter is that New York needs their entire roster healthy for the playoff run that they want to go on. Against New Jersey, Carolina, or Boston, any lingering injury could be the deciding factor between moving on, and going home disappointed without a Stanley Cup.
And while the Rangers are certainly gambling that Patrick Kane will be the missing piece to their championship puzzle, the amount of ice time that is currently being asked of some players shows that the team is playing with fire as they try and reach their goals.