Monday, January 28, 2008

Rangers Look to Deal Defensemen

The Rangers are likely to be shopping defenseman Marek Malik since last weeks spat between him and head coach Tom Renney, but would like an additional defenseman first.

Malik, who will be an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season, is in Renney’s doghouse since refusing to shake his hand after being benched in last Tuesday’s victory against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Speculation that he will be moved has run rampant ever since. Now, according to the New York Post, general manager Glen Sather is reluctant to move his often benched defenseman unless he gets another blue liner in return or is able to pick one up in an additional deal.

The Rangers have been linked to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the papers for weeks. Heavy hitting Adam Foote is the most likely defenseman to be moved from that team, but 25 year-old Rostislav Klesla is another possible player available in Columbus.

Another player the Rangers have been rumored to be interested in is Jon-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche. Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings, who will be an unrestricted free-agent at seasons end, is also available and Toronto Maple Leaf’s Tomas Kaberle may also be available. A deal for Kaberle is unlikely however due to the three-years worth $4.25 million per season left on his contract.

In order to make a move the Rangers may have to involve 22 year-old goaltending prospect Al Montoya. Montoya was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft and is unlikely ever to see much playing time as a Ranger due to the emergence of Henrik Lundqvist. Teams with goaltending issues are likely to be interested in prying Montoya away from the Rangers.

Petr Prucha may also be included in any deal the Rangers make. Prucha is just two years removed from his 30-goal rookie season, but has been mostly a disappointment to Ranger fans this season as he has been able to score only six goals in 48 games.

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