After a sluggish month of January, the New York Rangers have righted the ship, and are one of the best teams in the NHL over the last month or so. With the NHL Trade Deadline coming up, they still have a few areas they need to improve in the lineup, despite the recent stretch of strong play.

The Rangers have a need for right wing and center help. When it comes to the right wing, Chris Drury will be targeting a top six winger to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. This was the case before Blake Wheeler went down for the season, but it is especially more pressing now. The line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider has struggled at five-on-five. Mika Zibanejad's scoring is especially important. Someone like Frank Vatrano would fit the bill.

For the center position, Chris Drury will likely look for a depth center who could play on the third line. After Filip Chytil went down for the season, that was an obvious need. Jonny Brodzinski has filled in about as well as you could ask for, but the Rangers will undoubtedly look at centers ahead of the deadline.

Based on Chris Drury's track record and moves at prior deadlines, he is going to get help at those positions, even if they are names that fans might not expect. There is not much of a doubt that Drury will do what it takes to get the Rangers' forward group some help.

Now, this is a nightmare scenario story. With how unrealistic it seems that the Rangers will miss out on landing some help for their forward group, the actual nightmare scenario for the NHL Trade Deadline involves a division rival that they could run into in the playoffs.

Rangers' nightmare scenario: Hurricanes make a splash move

Chris Drury in street clothes, Artemi Panarin, Peter Laviolette. New York Rangers logo

The Rangers are currently in a race with the Carolina Hurricanes for the Metropolitan Division. Recently, the Hurricanes were rumored to be close to acquiring Elias Pettersson from the Vancouver Canucks, before he signed an extension with the team.

Obviously, the move did not go through, but it would have been a splash move from the Hurricanes, and would have changed the outlook on the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It could have also given Carolina enough of a boost to make a run at chasing down the Rangers to win the Metropolitan Division.

Either way, the Hurricanes are a team that the Rangers very well could face in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Hurricanes being involved in talks for Pettersson shows that they are serious about making moves ahead of this year's deadline. Maybe someone like Jake Guentzel could get moved and the Hurricanes show the same type of urgency as they did with Pettersson.

Or, the Hurricanes could opt to make a trade for a goaltender, which would boost their chances in a playoff series and would lessen the advantage the Rangers would have with Igor Shesterkin in net.

For the Rangers, the Hurricanes are likely to be the toughest test they face before getting to the conference finals, where the Boston Bruins or Florida Panthers would be tough tests. The ideal outcome for the Rangers this deadline is that they get the help they need in trades, while the Hurricanes do not make any significant moves and stay virtually the same team as they are right now.