New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

By Jay Travers

The New York Rangers marched into the 2015-16 season with their heads on straight. An impressive start to the year led to a monumental disaster of a month in December.

The Rangers now seem to have gotten back on track, but are not finishing their games late in the third. Last night at the Garden, the Blueshirts fell 5-3 against Chicago.

While playing well, the Blueshirts didn’t finish late and lost. Considering that Chicago dictated the play most of the game, and the Rangers had a lead in the third, it makes the loss that much tougher to swallow.

For a team that was looking good on home-ice, and looking good in general, they sure let down the fans at the Garden last night. But what exactly are they missing?

A bottom-six forward.

As the NHL Trade Deadline rapidly approaches on February 29th, Rangers’ GM Jeff Gorton will have a few tough decisions to make.

Let me make this clear: Keith Yandle should not be traded on or before the deadline. Put aside what you could get in return for a second.

Ryan McDonagh has just come back from being sidelined with a concussion. The Rangers will be very careful with what they do with the captain, but Yandle has to remain on Broadway for safety reasons. If McDonagh can’t play, Yandle has to step up to the first pairing.

But, if you want to look at the return you could get for Yandle, go ahead. A lot of teams want an offensive producing defenseman, and Yandle is that player.

Yandle for St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk? Perhaps. Boyle’s defense has been killing his entire game this season. Although he scored last night, the goals he lets in are horrid.

Shattenkirk is a New Rochelle, NY native and was a Rangers fan growing up. He has 10 goals and 29 points for the season.

It would be unwise for the Rangers to dump Yandle at this point. Maybe if it was for an big time forward, but at this point everybody is expendable. It would be beneficial to see Dan Boyle go before Yandle does, be it unlikely.

But regardless, the Blueshirts have Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei at the ready. While it could be risky, the Rangers do have back up defenseman who are ready to play at the NHL level now.

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But what the Rangers really do need is a strong, bottom-six forward. The key is to get what the Rangers want and need without getting rid of their future.

The game against Philadelphia on Sunday proved what playing a tough game could result in; keeping the other team at bay while dominating the score.

You don’t expect Tanner Glass to become a puck-handling powerhouse, do you?

If the Rangers got a forward like Eric Staal from Carolina or Cody Eakin from Dallas then they might have a chance. Out of the two, however, Staal’s probably the better option.

One, his brother is on the Rangers’ blueline and has had a decent enough season and plays close to 20 minutes a game.

Eric Staal plays just about that as well.

Two, Staal has experience. He has a Stanley Cup ring and has served as the captain for Carolina.

If the Rangers want to have a good chance at going all the way this year, they need to pick up someone at the deadline who can play bottom-six minutes and play consistently. Teams have won physical battles against the Rangers for too long; now it’s time for a change and the addition of some grit might be able to get this team Cup ready.

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I love watching sports, specifically teams in New York. I'll root for all New York teams, but the New York Rangers and hockey are my number one. I am an avid hockey fan and enjoy expressing my opinion on the Blueshirts, when they are playing good and bad.