The scouts are everywhere. The March 2 trade deadline is approaching and the Rangers are trolling the waters, as are numerous other teams, both buyers and sellers.
Five teams were represented at the Rangers-Canucks game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday: Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Calgary and Buffalo.
On Friday, a Rangers scout was taking in the Hurricanes-Maple Leafs game in Raleigh, North Carolina. So were observers from the Blackhawks, Jets, Penguins, Blues and Blue Jackets. Coyotes general manager Don Maloney has been at the Garden at least twice.
Glen Sather knows that the top teams in both the East and West playoff races surely will make moves to try and improve, and that he will have to counter by adding depth.
With only five picks in the June draft (no first-rounder, just two second-rounders, a third, a fourth and a sixth) and limited cap space, the Rangers don't figure to pull off a blockbuster similar to last March's swap of captain Ryan Callahan for Tampa Bay's Marty St. Louis.
They have several key players to sign, including restricted free agents Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, and must make decisions on unrestricted free agents Mats Zuccarello and Martin St. Louis and RFAs Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller.
Sather has pulled the trigger on deadline deals in every season recently, although they haven't always been impactful. In 2014, he also added defenseman Raphael Diaz. In 2013, he acquired Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore in the Marian Gaborik trade with Columbus and landed Ryane Clowe from the Sharks for three picks. In 2012, John Scott arrived. In 2011, Sather acquired John Mitchell from Toronto.
With 48 players under contract, the Rangers can add two without subtracting anyone.
The Rangers brass is tight-lipped on this front, but in conversations with some other club executives and agents around the league, here's what we're hearing at this point:
1 Carolina's Andrej Sekera, Edmonton's Jeff Petry and Arizona's Zbynek Michalek will command too high a price for the Rangers, given the competition and the thin market for defensemen.
2 They are not trading their three top prospects, Anthony Duclair, Pavel Buchnevich and Brady Skjei. But Hartford's Danny Kristo and others in the AHL would be available in the right package.
3 One of the second-rounders could be moved.4Among depth defensemen, Colorado's Jan Hejda and Carolina's Brett Bellmore, a 6-4 stay-at-home D-man, apparently are on the radar.
5 Among unrestricted free agent forwards, the Rangers have long been interested in Calgary winger Curtis Glencross, who has requested a trade, but again, there is plenty of competition for his services. Other names being bandied about are centers Mark Letestu (Columbus), Torrey Mitchell (Buffalo), James Sheppard (San Jose) and Kyle Brodziak (Minnesota) and wingers Daniel Winnik (Toronto) and Erik Condra (Ottawa).
6 If the Rangers strike out at center, the logical add in the event of injury would be Chris Mueller from Hartford. On defense, the call-up likely would be Conor Allen.
Lots of chatter, lots of rumors. But that's part of the landscape at this time of year.