The trade deadline has come and gone. The Rangers made three trades and re-signed a pair of players. There were no surprises, no “WOW” trades from the Rangers, just business as usual. There was a lot of chatter on Twitter, and after a day to digest, I have some thoughts.
1. The Kevin Hayes trade is what left a lot of people with feelings that Jeff Gorton got fleeced. There was a vocal group of Jets fans that thought that Winnipeg got fleeced. Generally speaking, that’s usually a sign that the trade was fair. It’s probably not the best barometer to use, but hey, it works. In the end, Hayes fetched the Rangers a B prospect and a 1st round pick. That’s what everyone thought would happen, and that’s what would happen. If Matt Duchene fetched a pair of B prospects and a pair of 1sts, then Hayes was always going to get less. That’s the way the trade deadline works. Top prospects are rarely available for pure rentals. The only reason why Erik Brannstrom was included in the Mark Stone deal was because Vegas knew they were going to re-sign him. Past that, it’s never the top guys, only the B-level guys.
2. As for Brendan Lemieux, he’s got some skill, but he’s primarily a bottom-six pest. He’s probably one of those guys that you want on your team, but hate when you’re going against him. He can fight and protect his teammates, for the folks who want punchers. He was a second round pick. He wasn’t my personal favorite from Winnipeg, as I would have preferred Nic Petan (who was also traded at the deadline), but I’m not going to nitpick. The prize is the 1st round pick. If Lemieux turns into a useful bottom-six, then that’s just gravy.
3. The McQuaid trade was one I wasn’t overly pleased with at first. It took a long time for the news to come out that the Rangers, in addition to 4th and 7th round picks, got Julius Bergman. I love Swedish hockey players, and Bergman is a Swede. He is a 23 year old right handed defenseman. Even as a depth player, it helps the Rangers basically break even. My initial qualms with the deal was the Rangers gave up their own 4th and 7th rounders to get McQuaid, and the Columbus picks will be further back in both rounds, a net negative. However Bergman probably makes this a break even sequence of events for the Rangers. Given McQuaid’s reputation in the locker room, let’s give a slight win here for Gorton.
4. Random side note, but the Rangers got a 2022 conditional 4th from Winnipeg for Hayes. The condition was that the pick hits if Winnipeg wins the Cup this year. I’d love to know how that was negotiated. “Hey Kevin, I need another pick.” “Jeff, I can’t guarantee you one.” “Ok, give me a conditional 4th.” “Sure, but only if we win the Cup.” “Deal. 2020 work?” “No – 2023.” “Ugh, fine, settle at 2022.” “Deal.”
5. Re-signing Boo Nieves was a good move. He’s probably the 4C for the near future, and he came at a cheap contract with no risk involved whatsoever. It kept him away from being a UFA at the end of the year as well. Not much else to say here, other than Nieves earned his deal.
6. Steven Fogarty also re-signed. Terms haven’t been disclosed yet, but it keeps him from being a UFA as well. He’s a food injury depth center who has really turned it on lately in the AHL.
7. A Group 6 UFA that wasn’t re-signed like Nieves and Fogarty: John Gilmour. May not mean anything yet, but something worth keeping an eye on.
8. This deadline, the Rangers got four 2019 picks: A 1st, a 2nd that could become a 1st, a 4th, and a 7th. They got a 2020 3rd that could become a 1st. And they “got” a conditional 4th in 2022 that won’t hit and I’m not counting. In addition to Lemieux, that’s five picks, of which three are in the first three rounds, and they could get as many as three picks out of this deadline.
9. All in all, a good deadline that moves the Rangers forward in their rebuild. There wasn’t anything that helped launch this forward a few years. The Blueshirts will still get worse before they get better. This is what happens in a rebuild. It is not going to be pretty, folks.