The trading deadline has been incredibly underwhelming for the New York Rangers in recent years. John Mitchell. John Scott. Bryan McCabe. Those are pretty much the highlights of the trading deadline for the Rangers the previous two deadlines.
This year's deadline was as big as any. The Rangers made a move for San Jose Sharks left winger Ryane Clowe yesterday, giving up a few draft picks in the process. I covered this deal pretty extensively late last night so read up there for an in-depth look at the deal and what Clowe brings. Not much else to say. Clowe did mention after this morning's practice that he believed he would be playing on a line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. That, of course, is not going to happen.
A Gaborik trade had been lightly speculated. He was underachieving. The Rangers could benefit from some depth and dropping some salary. But rumors kind of died off from there. Gaborik was not really even in the trade picture this morning and into the day. Crazy things can happen in the last moments before the deadline, though. Gm's who have been working on a particular deal for multiple weeks suddenly have 10-20 minutes to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. It seems that, one way or another, the Blue Jackets and Rangers quickly processed a trade sending the slumping Marian Gaborik (plus Steven Delisle and Blake Parlett to get under the 50-man roster limit) to the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for center Derick Brassard, winger Derek Dorsett, defenseman John Moore, and a 6th round pick.
It's a trade that was made for a number of reasons. For starters, it very well may come out that Gaborik requested the trade or that Tortorella told Sather he felt it was time to move on. At the very least, it was clear that the two weren't completely on the same page; Gaborik didn't like being placed on the left wing. Tortorella was demoting him or benching him altogether for poor play. The 31-year-old Slovak is a free agent at the end of next season and a divorce was likely to come. Sather likely decided it was best to move him while he still had value and could return three NHL ready pieces as opposed to waiting too long and getting a poor return (like the Flames did with Iginla).
The trade also makes the Rangers younger and adds more depth. Dorsett is 26. Brassard is 25. Moore is 22. The Rangers trade someone going on the wrong end of 30 and likely gone after next season and add three guys who have the potential to be with the team long-term. Another problem the Rangers have had is depth. The Rangers sacrificed a lot of depth in the offseason with the mindset that the top two lines would be that much better and more than make up for that loss. Unfortunately Gaborik (though not alone in this) did not live up to his end of the bargain. Thus, if he isn't producing anyway, then it makes sense to get some of that depth back. Dorsett is similar to Brandon Prust. He was an assistant captain for the Blue Jackets because of his willingness to do whatever he could to help the team win. He'll fight just about anybody. He plays hard every shift. And he can chip in his share of goals. Derick Brassard is sort of in the Dubinsky mold. Some inconsistencies, but a solid two-way game and a lock for 50 or so points. John Moore is the player I might be most excited about. He is an absolutely fantastic skater, similar to a Ryan McDonagh in that sense. He is not going to light the world on fire but is going to be a steady defenseman in the National Hockey League. Behind Dylan McIlrath, the Rangers have virtually no defensive prospects beyond depth potential. Moore is a nice addition.
And finally, the deal gives the Rangers some maneuverability salary cap-wise. McDonagh, Hagelin, and Stepan are all restricted free agents this offseason and will get raises. Part of that cap space will come from other players moving as well as some buyouts coming off the cap, but it still isn't enough. This trade saves the Rangers a bit under $2 million in cap room and helps that cause.
Of course, the Rangers are giving up the best player in this trade. Gaborik has struggled this season but we have seen in the past just how quickly he can become that 40 goal scorer once again. It's going to be hard to replace that kind of production, even if he wasn't bringing that production this season. With the Blue Jackets joining the Rangers' division next season, this has the potential to work against us.
Two bold moves by the Rangers. Two moves that could, in hindsight, be brilliant switches by Glen Sather or significantly hurt the team. It is way too early to appropriately judge these moves and we probably won't get a good sense of how it worked out until multiple years from now. At least, let's give credit to Sather and the rest of the staff for recognizing something that wasn't working and having the guts to pull the trigger on some big-time trades. It's a much different looking Rangers team right now. Maybe for better. Maybe for worst. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.
Some other moves occured around the NHL. Let's take a brief look at some of them:
Nashville trades Martin Erat and Michael Latta to Washington for Filip Forsberg
Here's a curious move by Washington. Right now the Caps are on the outside looking in for the playoffs, and yet they move arguably their best prospect for a 31 year old winger who has career highs of 23 goals and 58 points. Sloppy trade that appears to lack foresight. Perhaps it's a move by a desperate George McPhee who sees his job as on the line.
Minnesota trades Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, a 1st, and a 2nd to Buffalo for Jason Pominville
Pominville is a fantastic scorer but wow is that a hefty package for Minnesota to give up. Larsson is a 20 year old winger who was incredible in the SEL last season and whom many are high on. Matt Hackett is a young goaltender with NHL potential. Plus the picks. It's a trade that a team intending to contend makes, and that's what the Wild are trying to do. Still, that's a fantastic return for a rebuilding Buffalo team.
Philadelphia trades Michael Leighton, 3rd to Columbus for Steve Mason
You literally could not create a more fitting trade if you tried. After a great rookie campaign, Steve Mason has been absolutely awful at the NHL level and is considered by some as the worst goaltender in the NHL. He lost his starting duties to Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been great this season and whom the Blue Jackets acquired from… the Flyers. Philadelphia is a known goaltending graveyard and Mason is as delicate as they come. He does have raw skill, but the biggest project that currently exists at the goaltending position has gone to the team that has struggled most with having stable goaltending play. Brutal.
St. Louis Trades Wade Redden to Boston for 7th
No comment necessary
Those are more or less the highlights of today's activity. You can view all trades made here. It's an uncertain but exciting time for the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how this new group adjusts with only 13 games left to play. Clowe has been in New York since this morning and Brassard is reportedly flying in now and should be ready for tonight's game. Dorsett is injured but should be ready for the playoffs (if we make it in) or perhaps even earlier. Moore is likely reporting to the Whale for now but will absolutely be in the mix for a defensive spot next season.
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