Evander Kane Nick Holden
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As of Jan. 18, 2018, the New York Rangers currently occupied one of the Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With the NHL trade deadline about a month away, the question begs itself: buy or sell?

Without a doubt, this is a precarious situation the New York Rangers find themselves in. Most fans would agree this team is not good enough to win the Stanley Cup. So, the question remains: Go after rentals in an effort to make this team better now, or tear it down to build for the future?

Regardless of management’s decision, there are some intriguing names being tossed around the trade rumor mill. Let’s examine some options that could help the Rangers out down the stretch, should they decide to make some moves.

Evander Kane

The Buffalo Sabres forward is currently enjoying a very nice offensive season on a very poor team. Kane fits the bill of an imposing power forward who can skate, check, and score. Quite frankly, this is the type of forward that would really help the Rangers.

Unfortunately, Kane is an extremely streaky scorer and he’s going to cost an arm and a leg for the Rangers to acquire. Rental trades in recent years have really killed the prospect cupboard and draft picks. The rumored price for Kane is currently through the roof; it includes a first-round pick and prospect as a starter. Kane is a UFA at the end of the season so, to me, something the Rangers should steer clear of.

Jack Johnson

The Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman has never quite lived up to his third overall selection in the 2005 NHL entry draft. Then again, aside from a few, that first round was pretty disastrous as a whole. Johnson is a smooth-skating, left-handed defenseman who can add some offense, but most won’t confuse him with Erik Karlsson. A defenseman in the mold of someone like Brady Skjei, Johnson has only posted two positive seasons plus/minus-wise. Johnson also only has one season of a corsi rating above 50 percent.

There haven’t been any rumors floating around about the price of Johnson as the team appears to want to keep him. But with his diminishing role with the Jackets, Johnson wants to set himself up with a more prominent role to cash a multi-year contract. Another UFA at the end of the season, this has the makings of another rental for the Rangers to avoid.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

 The first overall pick from 2011, the 24-year-old center is an intriguing case. He has three years remaining with an annual price of $6 million; he certainly hasn’t lived up to the first overall billing. He’s now stuck on the Edmonton Oilers depth chart behind the one and only Connor McDavid as well as Leon Draisaitl. Nugent-Hopkins is definitely one of their movable pieces since they’re most likely out of the playoff picture.

He’s definitely young enough where he can still reach full potential and he’s something the Rangers currently do not have: a center that has the talent and capability of enhancing the play of his line mates. Nugent-Hopkins would slot nicely in the 1B center position behind Mika Zibanejad and ahead of the new shutdown center Kevin Hayes.

Again, the price would most likely be high, but with the Oilers signing McDavid and Draisaitl to massive deals, maybe the cap crunch could force them to sell for a lower price.

Mike Hoffman

The one who Rangers fans should be clamoring about the most, Hoffman is a pure goal scorer. He’s hovered around 30 goals in his three seasons with Ottawa while playing for the very defensive-minded head coach Guy Boucher. Hoffman’s salary floats just north of $5 million a year and his slightly off pace numbers this season could suggest a lower price to net him.

No Ranger scored more than six power-play goals last season while Hoffman tallied a total of thirteen. Hoffman doesn’t fall under the category of rental and could help the Rangers goal-scoring woes for more than just the playoff stretch.

There are most definitely other names on the market. Max Pacioretty could be a non rental option. Rental names available would be Thomas Vanek, Mike Green, and Erik Gudbranson, just to name a few. But again, it doesn’t seem necessary to break down the new prospect cupboard and draft picks to attempt to salvage this season.

One player isn’t going to solve the woes this team is currently undergoing. Yes, Ranger fans, the thought of a shiny new toy always excites but this team needs a larger overhaul than one might think.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.