The New York Rangers were busy in the selling department once again this trade deadline, continuing to hold true on the letter they sent last year which spoke about the club rebuilding.
They didn’t purge the roster, but Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton made some excellent trades. His trades will help the Rangers continue to build a solid organization with a multitude of talented prospects.
In a post that I wrote in January, I discussed which players that I thought would have a new home on Deadline Day. I was right on some including Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, but I was wrong about Adam McQuaid.
In this post, I take a look back on my post from January and talk about which players that I accurately predicted would get dealt. In addition, I look at McQuaid and the return that the Rangers received for him.
Despite talented skills and good numbers, Hayes has been somebody who is streaky and makes silly mistakes, something you don’t necessarily want young players to see.
But, I don’t think the Rangers got the best value for a talented asset like Hayes. Brendan Lemieux and a late first round pick isn’t bad, but I thought it could have been better.
Unfortunately, his play since the All-Star break might have hurt the Rangers’ chances on getting a significant haul for the 26-year-old. Aside from his play after the break, Hayes has been phenomenal. He’s on pace for a career high in assists. At the moment, he has 28 assists and his career high for assists is 32. It’s clear that his play-making abilities are more prominent this season than in seasons past.
Sadly the return wasn’t great, but it isn’t bad. With the Hayes trade, the Rangers picked up another first round pick and now they have five picks in the first two rounds of the draft.
Adam McQuaid getting traded for something significant wasn’t even on my radar.
He has played well in recent games since the All-Star break which apparently boosted his value. The market for defensive depth is always important to contending teams, as other top teams have continued to build offensive depth. So, teams are always looking for solid defensemen who aren’t shy about laying a hit or blocking shots. This season, he has 77 blocks and 99 hits.
He also has been good at fundamentally sound defense throughout his career, with a decent plus-minus for his career at +62, and a surprisingly good +3 this year with the Rangers given the circumstances. However, I am still surprised he warranted that much back for many reasons. First of all, he is getting older and has lost a lot of speed. Not that speed was ever his game to begin with, but he’s looked very slow as of late and fails to adapt if he’s out of position. It seems like the game had passed him by from what he was known for with the “Big Bad Bruins” identity he fit in with.
Secondly, given his age, his injury history is also concerning. He has played less than 40 games in 3 different seasons with the Bruins and has played 36 this year with the Rangers. Granted, some of those games that he missed this year happened because David Quinn scratched him from the lineup. However, that doesn’t mean he was healthy all year-long either.
Lastly, he’s turnover prone. He gives the puck away a lot in his own zone and at center ice a lot. In an era of puck possession analytics being prominent when it comes to developing players and coaching, he is low on the list. That is something that might hurt a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has become a lot more offensively sound in recent years.
So overall, I am impressed the Rangers were able to get a 4th and 7th rounder for a defenseman that I didn’t think was anything special, especially with all the talent on the Blue Jackets defense core. I didn’t believe the hype that he would get traded, and I will admit I was happily wrong as a Rangers fan.
Zuccarello was the highest trade candidate on my previous article.
He was the Ranger hyped up to be traded the most, being he was a 31-year old pending free agent that could provide veteran leadership to any contending team. As a result, he was the first one traded, and I am honestly surprised that the Rangers were able to get such a solid return for him. A 2nd and 3rd round pick (conditional picks) for a guy on a down year and hasn’t played as well with the Rangers’ young players is a surprisingly good package.
But, this trade does make a lot of sense. The Dallas Stars need offensive depth to compliment their top end talent.
However, when you look at Zuccarello’s stats this season, you’ll see that his assist totals are down in comparison to previous seasons. In addition, his defensive awareness isn’t the same. So, I was surprised that he was able to warrant that much back.
Plus, he’s now hurt and will miss a month of play. When he returns, who knows if he’ll be in full force. He might not be ready to play alongside top end offensive talent like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. But, who knows, Zuccarello might come back in full force.
However, it still seemed like a lot as the Stars are sacrificing a 2019 2nd and a 2020 3rd that could become a 1st and 2nd in certain conditions. If he elevates them in the playoffs, as Zuccarello has been a good playoff player, it will be worth it for the Dallas Stars, a team that has won very few playoff series since their Stanley Cup win in 1999. Still, I am surprised the Rangers were able to get that much back.
Despite the fans loving him and him being a vital part to the leadership of the Rangers, it seemed obvious that trading him was going to be part of the rebuild. Fans will miss him, including myself as he was my favorite forwards, but it makes sense why he was moved. The most likely to be traded was indeed traded first, and despite him being loved, it was something that unfortunately had to be done to at least get something back.
stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals