New York Rangers send letter to fans signifying a rebuild is imminent

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01: Paul Carey
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01: Paul Carey /

With the trade deadline just around the corner, the Rangers open up to their fans about their plans to rebuild the team in an attempt to soften the blow.

The NHL Trade Deadline creeps ever closer by the day, and after weeks of growing speculation that the New York Rangers planned to be big sellers at the deadline, the Rangers themselves made their intentions clear in a letter to their fans that the plan is indeed to build a Stanley Cup contender in the future rather than squeaking into the playoffs this year.

It’s rare to see an organization be so transparent about their upcoming roster plans, but the Rangers are clearly to trying to ready fans and lessen the sting for what will surely be a difficult time.

The Rangers have crashed and burning ever since the turn of the new year, with a 3-8-4 record, primarily due to questionable coaching decisions, injuries, and underperforming players. In November and December, Henrik Lundqvist was able to mask the team’s flaws and bounce them back to a playoff spot, but with him cooling off as of late there is just no more denying that this Rangers team is deeply flawed and in need of serious change.

On Wednesday night, the New York Rangers were decimated on home ice by the Boston Bruins in a 6-1 shellacking. While the rebuild has appeared imminent for some time now, the blowout loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Rangers ownership and prompted the statement.

The Rangers currently have $1,120,238 in cap space and 11 players on expiring contracts, but they’ve also made it clear that nobody is untouchable. The upcoming unrestricted free agents are the most obvious assets to get shipped out first, including Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, Ondrej Pavelec, and David Desharnais.

However, the Rangers are making it clear that this will be nothing short roster purge to rebuild the entire roster rather than just a simple sell-off, and names such as the captain Ryan McDonaugh, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, JT Miller, and Jesper Fast have all been rumored to be on the move. The Rangers also placed Brendan Smith on waivers Thursday afternoon.

Rick Nash is one of the most intriguing stories of this deadline, and last week the Rangers asked him for his list of 12 teams he would allow himself to be traded to, all but confirming that he will be gone come Feb.26. The 33-year-old has 26 points in 54 games this season, and rumors have run rampant. Teams are showing a massive amount of interest in the rental goal scorer, and the front-runners have emerged to be the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars.

Getting Nash, however, will come at a price, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Tuesday on Insider Trading that the Rangers’ price for Nash could include of a first-round pick, a top prospect and a lesser player. A very steep price to pay for a couple of months of a depth scorer if you don’t plan on resigning him. If the Rangers cannot find a desperate partner before the deadline, odds are they will have to slash those prices if they want to get anything back for Nash.

But what about the heart and soul of this Rangers team, the man this team was built around, Henrik Lundqvist? Could he be a part of this roster purge so he gets a chance at the Stanley Cup? The man himself says no.

“I made a commitment to this organization a few years back. It was a big decision in my career,” Lundqvist said, via the New York Post. “I hope they have the same commitment to me. I guess it would really be up to them if they have another idea, but I don’t. I want to be here.”

Lundqvist has a full No Movement Clause, so any trade involving him will live or die by his choice. It’s unlikely that the Rangers would seek to trade their franchise cornerstone, but the statement put out by the Rangers was designed to prepare fans for anything.

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However, times are not as bleak as they seem for the Rangers faithful. The Rangers have already taken steps to ease the pain of a rebuilding process, with trading away some expensive contracts in the offseason in order acquire some young talent for the future. The Rangers are doing the right thing here by getting ahead of the decline, and the NHL’s most valuable franchise will surely be back soon enough.