GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The countdown to the Feb. 25 trade deadline continues, and if you believe the Rangers, they aren’t bothered by the fact that in little more than a week, their team is more than likely going to look a lot different than it does now.
“This time of the year, I think, every year, there’s always a feeling of ‘OK, what’s going to happen?’ ” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist — perhaps the only Ranger who knows with near 100 percent certainty that he isn’t going to be traded before the deadline — said Thursday after practice.
“There are some big decisions, for sure. But I think the best thing for us is just to focus on tomorrow. We have a challenging road trip coming up, and that’s distraction enough for everyone.’’
The Rangers already have made two trades, shipping Cody McLeod to Nashville for a seventh-round pick in 2020 last week and sending minor-league goalie Marek Mazanec to Vancouver on Tuesday for another 2020 seventh-rounder. But bigger moves are expected.
Forwards Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, fan favorites who will be unrestricted free agents this summer, are likely to be traded. Defenseman Adam McQuaid, whom the Rangers acquired at the beginning of training camp from Boston, also will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could be dealt.
In fact, with the Rangers in a rebuild, general manager Jeff Gorton surely would consider trading almost anyone on the roster for the right return.
The players said they aren’t worried about what will happen before the deadline, though.
“Not me,’’ defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “I mean, I’ve been traded twice, so if anything was to happen, it’s a business, right? But I think we all want to be here.’’
Coach David Quinn said he hasn’t noticed any gloom in the locker room as the deadline draws near.
“I loved our energy today,’’ he said. “I loved our mood today. I loved our work ethic, balanced with having fun. That’s probably as energetic a practice as we’ve had in a long time. And considering we got in at 6 in the morning [Wednesday] from Winnipeg and had our [Casino Night charity event] event last night, it was good to see.’’
Notes & quotes: The Rangers called up forward Connor Brickley from Hartford a day after sending Vinni Lettieri back to the minors. Quinn said he hadn’t decided if Brickley will play against the Sabres or if the Rangers will stick with their seven-defensemen, 11-forward alignment. Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal against the Sabres . . . Defenseman Freddie Claesson practiced fully for the second time since suffering a dislocated right shoulder Jan. 12, but Quinn said he won’t play against the Sabres . . . Vlad Namestnikov took a puck in the mouth in practice and broke a tooth but will be able to play Friday, Quinn said.