While many believe the New York Rangers need to upgrade their blue line before they can be safely be considered Stanley Cup contenders, head coach Alain Vigneault is content with the team’s current roster, writes Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News.
“For me, right now I like my team,” Vigneault said Friday. “I like the way the guys prepare and their work ethic and how they compete. Jeff (Gorton) and I communicate every day on our team and obviously our needs, etc. But I’m focused on the group that I have now and on the next game that’s coming up, and I’m preparing them. He knows my opinion on our group and if there are areas we can improve. He knows that, he’s known that for quite some time. I’m really focused on this group and what we need to do.
“I’m happy with what we have here. I think we’ve got a good team, a good, young group that’s hungry, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
It’s common for coaches, and in particular Vigneault, to direct much of his focus on the players available to him at the moment and on how to get them playing their best hockey as a group. It’s understandable for the coach to take this public stance, even if the club is actively looking to add ahead of the deadline, as he wouldn’t want to weaken his GM’s position by advertising that the team isn’t comfortable with the roster as is. But the Rangers have been in “go for it” mode for the last several seasons and there is still much doubt whether the team as currently constructed is good enough to go all the way. If Rangers GM Jeff Gorton finds a deal that makes sense, one that improves the team without sacrificing NHL talent and/or mortgaging the club’s future, expect him to pull the trigger.
Elsewhere in the Metro Division:
- With the Philadelphia Flyers falling further away from a playoff spot (the team is currently five points behind the Islanders for the Eastern Conference’s second wild card slot with two teams to pass) GM Ron Hextall has made it clear his team will not be a buyer at the trade deadline, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi. Instead, Hextall has indicated he will wait to see where the team resides in the standings after this weekend’s slate of games before determining just how much he is willing to sell off. The team will undoubtedly listen to fair offers for any of their five pending UFA’s, a group that includes Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. But should the Flyers fall further out of the race, would Hextall consider dealing away players with term left on their deals? “Not to make us a worse team,” he said. “If we make something happen [with trades] and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to. That’s why you don’t want to bring up 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play.” It’s a reasonable tact to take given where the organization is in terms of their rebuild/retool. With plenty of quality young talent yet to come, it makes sense to remain patient and avoid making any impulsive trades, whether to fortify the current roster or to add additional young assets.
- Seth Helgeson, whom the New Jersey Devils placed on waivers yesterday, has cleared but will remain with the team for the time being, tweets Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com. In a subsequent tweet, Gross relays that Devils head coach John Hynes indicated the decision to keep the defenseman on the big league roster was made to maintain “roster flexibility.” Helgeson has appeared in nine contests this season for New Jersey, registering his first NHL goal.