Sather will look to improve Rangers at deadline


The weekend victories over Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay not only sent the Rangers into the winter recess with restored equilibrium, they also ensured that general manager Glen Sather will attempt to be a buyer rather than a seller at the March 3 trade deadline.

Other than the debate of whether the organization would be better served by attempting to bring back first-round draft picks for impending unrestricted free agents Vinny Prospal and Olli Jokinen instead of bulking up for a shot at the playoffs — lesser rentals Matt Cullen and Dominic Moore each fetched a second-rounder last week — the question confronting Sather is how he’s going to turn approximately $1.15 million in cap space into a meaningful return.

The Rangers have been monitoring the situation in Edmonton with Sheldon Souray all year. Now that the veteran defenseman with the cannon from the power play point has included the Blueshirts on his list of teams for which he will waive his no-trade clause, Sather will be more than tempted — even with Souray likely to be sidelined until the third week of March with the broken hand he suffered in a Jan. 30 fight with Jarome Iginla.

But Souray’s contract carries a $5.4 million cap hit through 2011-12. The only way the Rangers would be able to get him would be by either including Michal Rozsival ($5 million cap hit through 2011-12) in the trade, or by sending No. 33 elsewhere in a separate deal without taking on much of a contract in return.

So, unless Sather is somehow able to pull off cap acrobatics of an unforeseen nature — or is willing to divest the Rangers of Wade Redden’s $6.5 million cap hit by waiving him to the minors, a move there is no indication the GM is considering — trade deadline changes are more likely to be made around the fringes, as they were last Friday when Jody Shelley replaced Donald Brashear on the roster.

The playoff race seems to have been distilled into a battle for one spot and one spot only, with the Rangers, Canadiens, Lightning, Thrashers and Panthers in the mix for eighth place.

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