Quick thoughts on the Michael Grabner trade

February 23, 2018, by

michael grabner

After last night’s loss to the Habs, the Rangers traded Michael Grabner across the river to the Devils for a top prospect Yegor Rykov and a second round pick. The fact that a trade happened wasn’t really a surprise, since Grabner was a healthy scratch for the game, a precaution to ensure he did not get hurt. As usual, I have some thoughts.

1. Let’s understand who Grabner is, before breaking down the return. Grabner is a solid player, a bottom-six winger who kills penalties. He’s a threat on the PK. He has tremendous speed, plays a two-way game, and puts himself in positions to score. That said, he doesn’t drive offense on his own. He’s a nice to have player, someone who helps a team that already has the primary scoring to make a run. He’s a nice to have player, who happened to revive his career in New York.

2. Because of all that, the return on Grabner is going to be lower than a return for Nash. As Pat said, GMs DO care about your reputation. Grabner doesn’t have the reputation of a guy who drives offense and scores 25 goals regularly, and that’s because he doesn’t We as Ranger fans have only seen the two marvelous seasons he’s had. That’s not a slight on Grabner by any means. It’s the reality of the situation.

3. Keeping all this in mind, the return is great. Rykov was easily the top one or two prospects in the Devils’ system. He’s a 20 year old kid who is getting top minutes in the KHL, a league notorious for seniorities. He’s a big kid, at 6’2″ and 215 lbs, and has a line of 2-14-16 in 51 games this season. He’s a good skater, a good puck mover, he has vision, is a great passer, and for you old school guys, he uses his size and hits people. Here are a few tweets regarding his play:

4. It doesn’t look good that he was a fifth round pick, but Russian kids are tough in the draft. Pavel Buchnevich was a third rounder because of signability. Igor Shestyorkin the same thing. Rykov is on Shetyorkin’s team, and he was the target in this trade for a reason. The Blueshirts have been keeping tabs on Shesty, and have seen a lot of Rykov. Both their contracts expire at the end of next season (I believe).

5. This isn’t a steal by any means, it is a fair trade. There were probably options with a late first round pick on the table, but those are crap shoots. The “sure things” in the first round end after pick 20 or so. Rykov is less a crap shoot and more an established prospect whose chances of making the NHL are fairly high. He projects out to a second pairing guy, and as Steve said above, someone who will compliment a Skjei or a Shatty, freeing them to do their thing in the offensive zone. This kid is ready for the next step.

6. The second rounder is nice to get too, and shows how great the market for Grabner truly was. From what I’ve heard, the Rangers were supposed to deal Grabner in the afternoon. The Devils and Ray Shero offered this last minute (probably), and the Rangers worked to get it done.

7. I need to call myself out here.

Thank you Ben. I was wrong. Never thought this would happen.

"Quick thoughts on the Michael Grabner trade", 5 out of 5 based on 22 ratings.
Categories : Musings


  1. Bloomer says:

    Good write up Dave…the Russians are coming!

  2. Pas44 says:

    First Ever Trade Between the Clubs.

    Good Luck Grabs! LGR!

  3. Walt says:

    We can afford to wait a year for the kid to arrive, along with our goalie, it’s going to be fun to watch!!!!!!!!

  4. Orland says:

    Excellent job by Gorton. Seems like Rykov has really come on and is close to NHL ready; a big left handed dman – which they need given the smallish RH dmen prospects (ADA & Pionk) and the likely trade of McD. So a mid round # 2 and a solid prospect in a position of need is probably as good as they could have hoped for in exchange for a rental like Grabner. Seems like Rykov may be a better prospect than Ryan Graves at this point.

    Optimistic that with a good return for Nash and perhaps McD we can be a strong up and coming team within 1 to 2 years. Sort of where the Leafs were last year although admittedly without their high end young forward talent.

    And impressed with Georgiev yesterday. Perhaps our 2 goalie until Igor arrives.

  5. Ranger17 says:

    Sjkei will need all the help he can get , he has looked terrible lately. ADA also had a bad game last night as did Staal , Staal looked very slow . Can’t see any way Marc can be on this team next year .
    Return for Grabner was OK not great but need to hit HR with Nash and either of Zucc or McTruck . Still think GMJG will do some thing no one saw coming .

    • Reenavipul says:

      You ever try and pull a square peg out of a round hole, especially when it’s been pounded on for 2 seasons?

      • Swarty says:

        Unless you are AV – then you pound the crap out of that peg

        • Reenavipul says:

          That’s the point: Skjei is going to have to unlearn a lot of what’s been pounded in his head by AV and start anew. Gonna be tough in season.

    • Peter says:

      Tony had 5 shots on goal, a couple of hits and 3 or 4 blocked shots and wasn’t on ice for any of the goals against during his 18 minutes TOI. Bad game? He had bad games the two prior games, not last night.

  6. Leatherneck says:

    Well that means a trade with the Islanders can happen…Zibby and Lundqvist to the Isles….Make it happen Gorton

  7. Reenavipul says:

    The thing about Grabner is that he *does* drive offense on his own via breakaways and turnovers when covering the point.

    Would he have issues in a top 6 role going against better skaters? Absolutely. He was a great luxury to have, but a luxury nonetheless.

    2 down, 2(or 3) to go.

    • Reenavipul says:

      So the probable game plan:
      1: Play a more doctrinaire style so new coach can see what he’s working with for next season. ✅
      2: Play the kids to see what the team has without losing expansion draft protection. ✅
      3: Deal any moveable asset that won’t be essential for a new window starting from 2019-20
      4: Stockpile future assets to possibly make deals or draft to slot players in the assembly line to extend the window. Draft & develop allows you to trade certain players for more picks farther out.
      5: Put together a team for 2018-19 season with the post deadline core accented by players on short term deals. If it works: great. If it doesn’t, repeat current process.

  8. wwpd says:

    Some of us will have trouble seeing past providing a bitter local rival with great firepower for the playoffs. That skews the discussion for evaluating any trade with the devils. Sorry downvoters but that’s just how I feel. Logic may dictate that it’s no different from any other trade but passion says this bites a fat one. And I’m certainly not a ranger fan all these decades because it’s the logical thing to do! 🙂

    • Pas44 says:

      It hurts seeing the Pens lift the cup with Hags.
      I’m happy for him, but it does sting.


    • Reenavipul says:

      “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity” – Yeats

    • sherrane says:

      Yegor Rykov should make you feel better about this trade in the future. He is signed through April 2019, so my thought is that he won’t be in NY next season but the following one (and he hopefully brings Shestyorkin with him). He was the Captain of the Russian team in the Under 18 World Juniors in 2015 and was an Alternate with Team Russia in the under 20 WJC tournament last year (2017). In his two seasons in the U20 tournament, he put up a line of 2-8-10 in 14 games and was also +12 in those games. He is a physically gifted player who understands the game and a team leader.

      The only downside that I see is that this gives the Devils a 4 month window to negotiate his next contract. I see this as a great trade as long as he doesn’t resign with the Devils, especially since the Rangers are unlikely to see anything from this trade next season.

      Will Grabner be enough to get NJ the Cup? If so, we have a lot more to worry about than Grabner moving across the river for the next several months. I think Grabner secures them as a playoff team and likely as the #1 Wild Card. I think they lose in the first round to either Washington or Pittsburgh. If they get further, than the Rangers would likely be looking up in the standings at the Devils next season regardless where Grabner signs.

    • Orland says:

      While I understand the sentiment it’s ridiculous to avoid trading with rivals if that’s the best deal available. In effect you are choosing to make your team worse to avoid improving one a number of rivals – a form of mutually assured destruction (exaggerating of course). Best course of action is to take the best return regardless.

      And when it is just trading a rental there is no downside at all. In fact keeping Grab in the NY area increases the likelihood that we can sign him this summer.

      Rest assured the Devils aren’t getting past the first round with Grab in any event.

    • Snake says:

      If Nash goes to the Islanders I will puke blood.

      • wwpd says:

        I posted last night in jest to balance out the division, nash to flyers for future considerations.

        But this would somehow be worse

  9. Rich S says:

    How anyone can have any confidence in this management after their terrible history of stupid moves and decisions is beyond me. lets recap….
    1. Overpays for eric stall[ two 2rd’s and prospect]
    2. Lets stall walk away , signs back with old team, then minn wild and proceeds to score 37 goals last year and has 27 already this year. BUT he wasnt good enough to play center for us….instead we have derek desharnais, peter holland and boo neives…….GREAT coaching AV – future HOF center cant use !!!!
    3. We let anton strallman leave and sign dan boyle! [anyone want to defend that?]
    4. Because we lost strallman , boyle didnt work we give up more assets for yandle ….who also doesn’t work and he leaves…..
    5. we give up a kings ranson….2 #1’s and top 6 player for aging superstar st louis [familiar pattern?]
    6. St louis scores 17 even strength goals in 90 games for us and has the worst playoffs any ranger has in at least 50 years against pitts, wash, tamps bay…..
    7. NOW we give up our best goal scorer, most exciting/ dangerous player we have..[.wasnt nash supposed to be that?] for a 2 nd round pick and a former 5 th rd pick!!!!! BRILLIANT MANAGEMENT!!!!! BRUTAL!!!!!!!!
    In less than one month expansion team vegas knights puts together a team of castoffs…..and is near 1st place in the west conf!!!!!!
    After almost 20 years of sather/ now gorton [ who is pulling the strings?] we have 1 finals appearance loss to show……and the beat goes on…….
    ANYONE who cares to disagree with these points ….explain how this management /coach is doing a fine job?????????
    The only trade we ”’won”’in the last 20 years was the mcdonagh trade!!!! 20 years!!!!! 20 F@#$%^G years!!!!

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Jeez, are you ever gonna spell Staal and Stralman correctly? You literally post about them every day, it’s really not hard to do this.

      Also, Eric Staal had 28 goals last year, not 37. And he was injured in the playoffs.

      • Rich S says:

        … are you ever gonna spell Staal and Stralman correctly?…Never, I rely on you big time to spell check me!!! And thank you for that!!
        Oops, you are correct…28 goals!!
        But the fact remains, he was the big , veteran, skilled center we need!!!!
        Would you agree with that?

    • Egelstein says:

      Back slowly away from the keyboard, bruh. LOL. You make some fair points about trade history, but this trade is nothing to be super-upset about. At the worst, it is a completely fair trade.

    • John B says:

      1. We traded a lower tier prospect, so therefore added a draft pick for a pending UFA. The Devils traded a better prospect so therefore only one draft pick of the same round. Put that together and it equals: equal payment and equal value.

      2. Eric Staal did not resign with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers management chose to keep Hayes and Miller over Staal. If we resigned Staal and moved one of those two, everyone would be bitching that we resigned an aging veteran cause reasons. So one way or the other, someone was bitching.

      3. They chose Marc Staal and Dan Girardi over Stralman yea. It sucks. Got it.

      4. Boyle wasn’t terrible here. Yandle couldn’t resign because of the Staal and Girardi contracts. But again, if Yandle resigned with us everyone would be bitching about him. So again: one way or the other someone was bitching.

      5&6. Martin St Louis did not have the worst playoffs if anyone in the past 50 years. St Louis put up 15 points in 25 games during the 2014 playoffs and 7 in 19 in 2015. That’s a total of 22 points in 2 years for the Rangers. Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller have put up a COMBINED 26 points together. One player 22 points. 2 players 26 points. St. Louis had 9 goals for the Rangers in his playoff runs with the team. Hayes and Miller have a COMBINED 3 playoff goals. Please, stop. Did Glen Sather muck up the trade yea. Martin St Louis was a better player and driver of offense when he was traded by the Lighting to us than Grabner was when we moved him to Jersey.

      7. Grabner was moved for what he was worth. He’s a bottom 6 player. He has 18 goals with a goalie in the net. Rick Nash has 18 goals with the goalie in the net. This is Talbot all over again. The League doesn’t value Grabner as you value Grabner. He was moved for what he was worth, not “our” inflated value.

      The rest of the diatribe, no one is saying the NY Rangers front office is Rhodes Scholars. But receiving fair value for an asset isn’t stupidity. Waiting and receiving nothing is.

      • Dan says:

        Whoops, meant to give you a thumbs up. I loved all your points, my bad.

      • Rich S says:

        John B,
        Thanks for the response to each point…
        But if it is true we couldnt afford to keep staal and yandle WHY did we bother trading away so many assets for them??? Wouldnt have been wiser to keep them and draft younger, cheaper players?
        As far as St Louis…..we were the only team he wanted to be traded to, so WHY did we give up so much…he was 35 and aging!?
        And in the playoffs against the kings and caps he got pushed around like a child playing with men…..and he had more giveaways than I have ever seen in 50 years of rangers hockey….rewatch the games…it was brutal watching him…..

        • Reenavipul says:

          The question is: if the soon-to-be ex-HC and the GM are supposed to be on the same page, why is the GM getting players the coach wouldn’t use properly?

    • Reenavipul says:

      The past is the past and can’t be changed. The only things to do now is to look ahead. The only person going at the end of the season is AV and I’m not even sure of that.

  10. Egelstein says:

    I’m perfectly content with this deal. I’m not phased at all that it was a deal with NJ, as I do believe that in this particular type of scenario, you can deal with a bitter rival and not feel the sting all that much, if at all. Pending UFA who wants more years than it seems the Rangers would be willing to give, so especially if he doesn’t even end up signing with the Devils, it appears to be a complete non-factor in terms of haunting the Rangers. If Grabs meaningfully contributes to a Cup run for them, that will sting a little, sure…that said, nobody in their right minds is projecting the Devils as true contenders, so we probably don’t have to worry about that. And if they sign him long term, well, they could have gone on to do that in the offseason anyway.

    All that said, something like donating McD to the Devils for this return… now, that would be grounds for complaint! I don’t see something like that happening in-division, nor should it. A move like this one though, I don’t see it as a factor at all.

    As for Rykov, I totally dig that get. It seems pretty great to me that they have seen a ton of him in their tracking of Shesty already, and I like the idea of him and Shesty transitioning to the NHL together. One has to assume Pavel is pretty psyched about this news as well. While he may not be heralded as a can’t-miss future perennial Norris candidate, few are, and nobody in their right minds was going to give up a true blue chip prospect for a few months of Grabs…I think Rykov is about as close as it gets in a deal like this. Regarding his draft position, that does not phase me one bit. The NHL draft tends to get a little kooky at times past the top tier of players who project as surefire NHLers, and the Russian factor is indeed pretty tangibly strong throughout the NHL.

    As for the second rounder, I also have no issue with that. I was not expecting a first from anyone, unless it was a late round first and maybe a throwaway or very young/raw prospect. I’d rather have a reasonably encouraging prospect who is already well along in his development and the second-rounder, personally.

    Only time will tell if this trade is truly a big win, but at least it doesn’t look like a big loss already. So far, Gorton seems to have gotten 125 cents on the dollar with both moves, as best I can tell. While we’d all love to see him pull off a good ‘ol fashioned fleecing (and fingers crossed, perhaps he may still do that), I’m perfectly fine with these types of deals that look fair or better for the Rangers.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Would love to re-sign Grabner and trade him again if the wheels fall off the NYR bus next season.

      Front load & signing bonus the next 2 year deal; it may be a pricey way to accumulate assets, but it’s an effective one that few teams can afford.

      • Egelstein says:

        I wouldn’t be opposed to a situation like that at all, if he continues to be deployed correctly for his skill-set. Not to mention, he’s obviously already provided amazing value in his first stint with the team, so paying more for him on a subsequent deal is basically just balancing the value in that way. Also, in the intangibles department, he is a respected vet who seems strong in the locker room, and we will need at least a couple skaters around during the rebuild for those purposes as well. While I personally find AV to be especially sub-par at times in the proper-deployment-department, I do give credit where it is due – Grabs has mostly been deployed perfectly during his tenure for his skill-set, IMO.

  11. Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

    Thanks Dave. After reading some of the more hysterical comments here after the trade last night I was concerned from those with apparently “inside” info that Gorton had deliberately turned down better offers for Grabner in his insane attempt to sabotage the team.

  12. gene4240 says:

    Gorton now has 5 picks within the first 90 selections in a very good Draft prospect pool in July. Nice to see NYR obtaining picks rather than sather and co. giving them out like candy.

    R1 (1)
    R2 (2)
    R3 (2)

    • Rich S says:

      There are not going to be any mcdavids, eichels, matthews, crosbys, evechkins, kanes toews….etc etc past the first 5 or 6 picks …..so who cares???
      I do not enjoy/ nor will I be watching desharnais, holland, mcleod, holland, carey, neives etc etc ….20 years of rangers ineptitude……how long did it take Vegas to become relevant????

  13. tanto says:

    Now we just need a 1st round exit for the Devils and to resign Grabner over the summer. With all the young guys coming in the cap shouldn’t be an issue for a while, pay Grabs a decent salary (3+m per) and give him a few years.

    PS: Play Georgiev again. If it turns out he can back up Hank next year we’ll save a few dollars.

  14. Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

    Three positive spins on the trade:
    1. From reports it looks like Gorton may have had a choice between a low first round pick or a mid second round pick PLUS a solid young prospect. To me, Gorton clearly made the right choice.

    2. Grabner gets to stay in the area and this may make it easier to resign him as a UFA if we want.

    3. Russia is a prime source of hockey talent. One of the impediments for NHL teams is getting the players to move to North America where there are language and cultural barriers, at least for some. With NYC’s sizable Russian community, the NYR already have a bit of an advantage attracting KHL players. Having a contingent of Russians on the squad enhances that. And I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Shesty and Rykov, who are about the same age on a veteran club, are buds.

  15. Larry says:

    Never a big fan of Grabner, people think he is a goal scorer, but how many empty netter he has? 7 or 8? Gorden did well there.

    • Peter says:

      He has 7 empty netters out of 25 goals. Grabner gets empty netters because he is an excellent defensive player, his mind is in the game at all times so he anticipates passes, and when he takes away the puck is too fast to be caught. I would not denigrate his empty net goals. The guy shot over 15% in the playoffs last year too.

      I am a huge Grabner fan. Sorry to see him go, but I think the Rangers got a fair deal for him when trading a rental.

  16. Larry says:

    What Nash can bring back to NYR? I can’t wait.

    • gene4240 says:

      if he is moved to Nashville, it has to be a 1st and 3rd round pick, Dante Fabbro to start.

  17. Peter says:

    This kid they obtained is a big Ruskie defenseman who is only 20 and has been playing against men since he was 19. Played in the KHL for their best team as a starter. I like the acquisition a lot and would not be surprised if he makes the club next season. He is said to be NHL ready. I am going to miss the speedy Austrian, but I think that in the context of trading a rental the return of a likely NHL ready young defender plus a second rounder was quite a nice deal.

  18. Peter says:

    This kid they obtained is a big Ruskie defenseman who is only 20 and has been playing against men since he was 19. Played in the KHL for their best team as a starter. I like the acquisition a lot and would not be surprised if he makes the club next season. He is said to be NHL ready.

    I am going to miss the speedy Austrian a ;pt, but I think that in the context of trading a rental the return of a likely NHL ready young defender plus a second rounder was pretty decent and fair deal.

    • Peter says:

      Sorry, seems I had a hiccup in the net that didn’t show that the post had been posted.

  19. Richter1994 says:

    I love Grabner, but he’s no Nash. Yes, a lot of goals but a lot of empty net goals. No possession to speak of 5 on 5 as evidenced by the low amount of assists. Great bottom 6 player and can PK.


    2nd rounder in deep draft.
    Got what appears to be an excellent D prospect.
    Just jacked up the asking price on Nash because of this deal.
    Grabner stays close to home and can re-sign easily this summer.

    What’s to complain about? Who cares that it’s the Devs? Our season is done anyway.

    2 trades, 2 wins IMO. Now the big ones, Nash and McD.

  20. 43 says:

    How about Ottawa turning Brassard into a first round pick. How many ex-Rangers are the Pens gonna nab?