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Expect Rangers to deal before trade deadline

Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers skates away from

Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers skates away from Brian Rolston of the New Jersey Devils. (Feb. 6, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

OTTAWA - At the trade deadline last season, the Rangers acquired center Nik Antropov from Toronto for two draft picks and defenseman Derek Morris from Phoenix for Petr Prucha, Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin.

Although the Rangers have made deals for forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust, enforcer Jody Shelley and backup goaltender Alex Auld in the last month, don't expect president and general manager Glen Sather to sit tight before Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade cutoff.

According to several sources, the Rangers, who begin a stretch of 20 games in 40 days in Ottawa on Tuesday night, have been inquiring for months about adding a veteran defenseman and another forward with a scoring touch.

Among those mentioned: Florida's Dennis Seidenberg and Edmonton's Sheldon Souray on defense, Toronto's Alex Ponikarovsky, Vancouver's Pavol Demitra, Columbus' Raffi Torres, Florida's Nathan Horton and Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano up front.

The Rangers - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - have prospects in the AHL and some draft picks to dangle, but players such as Souray or Horton would require clearing many millions in cap space. Souray is due $4.5 million in each of the next two seasons; Horton is due $15 million over the next three years. Teams reportedly are asking for Brandon Dubinsky, who is due to earn $2 million next season. Aaron Voros ($1 million) might also be included in a package.

The Penguins acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from Florida Monday and the Flyers and Devils also are expected to beef up their blue lines.

With rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto healing, but still not 100 percent after the 50-stitch gash in the chest three weeks ago from the skate of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Corey Potter was called up from Hartford and made the trip here from New York. Del Zotto's availability will be determined at the morning skate.

John Tortorella and Olympians Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan and Jokinen were arriving last night from Vancouver, and all four players are expected to dress against the Senators, who won 14 of their final 16 games before the break.

The Rangers, one point out of eighth in the East, won three of their last four, but Erik Christensen said he doesn't believe any momentum will carry over from those games two weeks ago.

"I'd have to say no. It's a 20- game season, a fresh start," he said. "The guys who were in the Olympics probably stayed in shape. And we've been feeling better after practicing, but there's no substitute for playing games. It's a big week coming up with Pittsburgh and Washington and Buffalo. We have to be ready."

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