Rangers' letter to fans suggests team will be busy at NHL trade deadline

The New York Rangers are bracing their fans for a fire sale.

In advance of the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline, the Rangers released an open letter on Thursday from President Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton opening a dialogue "about the future."

The letter, also posted in a series of tweets on the team's official account, said the Rangers will be "focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character."

It went on: "This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about and respect. While this is part of the game it's never easy. Our promise to you is that our plans will be guided by our singular commitment: ensuring we're building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender."

The Rangers are 25-24-5 and just three points out of a wild-card spot. They were shellacked by the Boston Bruins 6-1 on Wednesday night.

The Rangers, who have made the playoffs in 11 of the past 12 seasons, began reshaping their roster over the summer, trading veteran center Derek Stepan and top backup goalie Antti Raanta to the Coyotes to relieve cap space. New York also bought out the final three seasons of defenseman and alternate captain Dan Girardi's contract. Since 2005-06, the Rangers have played in 129 playoff games, won the Presidents' Trophy, reached the Conference Finals three times and also went to the Stanley Cup Final.

Earlier this month, the Rangers asked veteran Rick Nash to submit a list of 12 teams he would allow to be traded to. The 33-year-old right wing has 26 points in 54 games, but he is considered an attractive rental option for playoff contenders. Nash's contract expires after the 2017-18 season. Leading goal scorer Michael Grabner and defenseman Nick Holden are also pending free agents.