Making Lemonade: This Time Without Lemons

I’m fresh off writing 600ish words about the implications of the Trouba trade regarding the way we look at this Rangers front office, and I spoke mostly in broad strokes about how the Rangers seem to really know what they’re doing after all. I want to highlight one specific facet of that though, something that really comes into high relief when we parse out how it is exactly that Jacob Trouba wound up a New York Ranger. Let’s start from the top, something that you all know by now I’m sure (I almost feel dumb writing it): the Rangers acquired Jacob Trouba in exchange for the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and Neal Pionk.

Ok, yeah, that was dumb, but let’s build the trade tree, ok? Neal Pionk was acquired for nothing, he was an undrafted free agent signing. The 20th overall pick was acquired from … Winnipeg. How did we get that first round pick from Winnipeg? I’m old enough to remember sending Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg for Brendan Lemieux and the 20th overall pick, that’s for sure. How did we get Kevin Hayes then? Hold up … for … nothing?

Yes, you read that right. Lost in the waves and waves of Hayes debate over the years, whether he was used properly or whether he would turn out to be a true 1C or whether his fancy stats made him better than Mika Zibanejad (I guess I was wrong there), is that he too was a college free agent signing. That means, essentially, and I know this sounds insanely dumb, that Jacob Trouba was acquired for nothing. We got him in return for a free thing, and a thing we got in exchange for a free thing. Not a bad bit of business.

So what though, right? I mean how did that happen? It actually wasn’t by accident – whether it’s Jimmy Vesey or Jake Elmer (or John Gilmour, or Mats Zuccarello, or  Vinni Lettieri, or Michael Lindqvist, or Ville Meskanen …) the Rangers have not been shy about the way in which they cast a wide net for players not taken in the draft. It’s often just kind of painted over, and understandably so. Out of those names we’ve got two top-line players, plus Jimmy Vesey somewhere below that tier, and then that’s kind of it. Still, the counterpoint to that is usually “asset management! it’s good to cover every angle!”

There usually isn’t much proof to back that up though, because while asset management is good and well in of itself, this game is about practical results, on and off the ice. That means that picking up all these players for free essentially should pay off – what would the point be if literally none of them turned out to be NHLers? There is a point though, and we’re starting to see it. The Rangers traded Mats Zuccarello and got picks. They traded Kevin Hayes and got a good middle-sixer and a pick. They traded that same pick back along with another player they got for nothing, and voila, there’s that young, in his prime, well-rounded top-pairing defenseman we’ve been yearning for all this time. Not bad at all. As I said yesterday, trust the process.

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  • If we had resigned Hayes…I’ll go on the record and say …hard pass at that cap hit…we would have gotten Trouba and Lemieux for Pionk…think about that…and maybe a 5 th…

      • Tony

        Living here in Pennsylvania, and watching the Pens, and Filthadelphia games all the time, the fans in Philly are going to hate everything about this deal within three months. They like their tough players, Simmons type, and they get a twit with Hayes, who when hit disappears. They will eat his lunch. Going to play for AV again is going to be fun to watch as well. Bottom line, it couldn’t have happened to a better team, and or player!!!!!!!

        • Agree Walt.

          We’ve said it as well, that we would hate Kevin the minute the ink dries on his contract, if it were for the Rangers. Again, an overpay to convince the player to stay, just like the Sharks did with Karlsson.

          It will be interesting if the next CBA eliminates the “compliance buyout” provision, basically screwing these teams. Probably not because the Flyers are a Bettman “preferred team.”

          • Tony

            That may well be a thing of the past, since Ed Snyder died. On the other hand, the Flyer ownership owns Comcast, and NBC, so they may well be protected!!!!!!!!!

          • The only reason there would be a compliance buyout is if the revenue splits went in favor of ownership.

            That’s not happening, so anybody counting on compliance buyouts to fix lousy contracts are barking up the wrong tree.

            Flyers are spending like mad dogs because tickets sales are softening with the Sixers finally becoming relevant again after a decade in the wilderness.

      • I agree with worse than Karlsson. At least with Karlsson you are paying for someone who is (at least) top 5 in his position. Is Hayes top 40 at center?

        • Hayes has had one year, and even then he was a bust in Winnipeg.

          I get the impression that Kevin’s play is based on his mental state of things at the time, so if he signed for the money as opposed to being happy, then this is not going to work.

      • Its just like AV to overpay someone like Tanner Fast Glass. And some people say that the coach does not influence who will play for him.

    • To go one step further, Trouba was only available to the Rangers because the Jets pissed him off 2 years ago by not honoring his trade request.

      So the Jets won a battle, but lost the war, big time.

  • The very point I made the day the trade was made, we got Trouba, and Lamieux for Pionk, and Hayes who we signed as free agents. Now that isn’t a bad transaction if I say so myself.

    There are some who don’t care for JG, me I’m in his corner, the guy is a winner. With the addition of JD, we will have one of, if not the best management team in the NHL. Give these two maybe three years at the most, and you’ll see a quality team, that’s going to be tough to play against, will be big, strong, and driven. They will be in the cup hunt for years!!!!!!!!

    • To take it further on Gorton I’ve been reading comments from people outside of our area (mostly on the Athletic) that are saying JG is an excellent GM. IMO, now that he is unfettered from Sather and will be further assisted by analytics and JD’s support he will be just fine. This team is in good hands, I believe.

      • I think Sather did have a hand in the bad Ranger contracts, including a 6’5 defenseman who could fight but ended up with bad knees!

    • As long as they do not get themselves in Cap hell for years. Staal and Hank are tough contracts to swallow, but Names and Smith are on Gorton. That is $8M we need for other assets. I think you cannot hit a homerun every time, but you need to be careful when you pay middle 6 forwards and mid/bottom pair defensemen. I think the 2 toughest decisions of the JG era are coming up; signing or passing on of Krieder and Panarin.

      He needs to move some contracts off the books in the next 10 days. His ability to do that will shape the team for years to come. We have to know he is trying, but so does the rest of the league, and they may be playing it tough.

      Best case – He moves Names, Vesey, partial Shatty and partial Smith and we sign Trouba and Panarin. Figures out a way to keep CK

      Worst Case – No takers for Shatty, Smith, Names and Vesey. CK gets moved and we can only sign Trouba. Panarin signs elsewhere

      Gorton – it’s your time to shine!

      • Sal

        I can see deals made at the draft, Names, Vesey, and possibly Smith gone. Personally the ball is in Kreider’s corner, it depends on his demands. If he is willing to sign a fair contract, say around $6 or so, for 4-5 years, it’s a deal. If the demands are too high, he will be gone. I’d hate to see him gone, I like the guy. As for Panarian, I believe he is over rated, and if he signs elsewhere, I’d be happy for it.

        Now the other bad deals will play themselves out in time. Look Shittypants, Hank, Staal all come off the books in two years. We won’t put ourselves in a cap hell again, not under this management team. If there is an idiot GM out there willing to take on any of the three contracts, I’d be tickled pink just to rid ourselves of the players involved. As for Hank, he will be a part of this organization in some capacity for a long time, ala Gilbert, upon retirement!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Walt
          If JG has his mind set on Panarin, then I think CK must go. I would be utterly shocked if they find a way to sign Panarin and keep CK. The rest of the guys can go for draft picks for all I care.

          I think we need a real scoring presence to aid the new kids. Maybe the person is Zibanejad. I do not see Panarin taking a discount (<$10M) for coming here.

    • And you didn’t even mention trading Brassard and a 7th round pick for Zbinejad and a 2nd rounder. If that trade wasn’t an outright theft, I don’t know what is..

  • JG won me over with these moves lately. I’ve been praying for him to use his leverage in exactly this way and he finally did. Part of me is still in disbelief on this Trouba deal. But it’s a helluva move by Gorton and could very well define his tenure here. It had a similar feel as to when Sather somehow got McDonagh for giving up Scott f’n Gomez.

    I had to chuckle when I saw Hayes for 7 years at that cap hit. Ooof… no thanks! Alain “turn the other cheek” Vigneault in Philly plus an expensive Hayes for 7 years. That should work out well. They’ll both accelerate the Flyers march towards their own rebuild in a few years. I predict that team bottoms out right about the time the NYR look like a contender again.

    Tomorrow is the big day… I can’t wait!

      • They have been weak in goal since the loss of Lindberg, and they can’t seem to get over that hill. Your right, they are rebuilding by getting goons all the time, and that was at the directive of Ed Snyder!!!

  • Gorton & JD in Vancouver – making calls, trying to make deals. Gordie moving guys up and down his chart. Lots of activity for the team brass. Can they come out like heroes? in 48 hours we should know. I still foresee a move nobody predicts – something like a Buch or Fast trade. Are the picks 3 – 12 worth moving Skjei for? Is AD the real deal or did he just up his value for a trade? Going to be an interesting 2 days.

    • Right now, I’d say just about anything is on the table. I also have confidence in JG and JD to make the right deal(s) and avoid the wrong ones. Sometimes the deals you don’t make are just as important as the ones you do.

  • Past history regarding JG’s deals tells us a few things. (1) Nobody outside his inner circle even knows what he’s working on at any time or what teams he’s talking to. (2) Nobody (not even Larry Brooks) has a clue as to what the terms of any possible trade he’s considering actually are going to be. (3) When the trade is announced, it will be a done deal, and a lot of people are going to be scratching their heads and saying “WTF?”.

  • Sal,

    Although it looks real hard to fit a new Kreider contract with a Panarin signing, one without the other makes no sense. Signing both may waste 2, maybe 3 years, before we are legitimate contenders. I personally can live with that or neither of them (with something of excellent value coming back for Kreider) but I absolutely don’t want to see just one of their contracts.

    : ( As the reality is setting in that its going to be really hard to move or eat the Shatt, Smith, and Staal contracts in order to have a chance at both. They are some big hits on this coming year where every million counts in the Kreider/Panarin discussion.

    • It’s going to be either Kreiderman or Panarin….not both. and I don’t see where you get the sad face from losing the 3 stooges lol. It will be a glorious day when we get rid of at least 22 …all 3 need to go tho

    • So true jr, so true … they really work best if you can have both. We need Kreider’s presence on the ice, something that’s sorely lacking with all the other forwards.

  • Why would Panarin want to sign in NY. Quinville and no taxes with a playoff ready team are in Florida.
    not the rebuilding Rangers who plan on starting 2 rookie top 6 forwards nightly. Or have a defense in complete flux. Are 2 years away from playoff contention… I could go on.

    • Maybe the lack of a Russian community in Florida could be a reason NOT to go there. In the end, it will come down to dollars and community culture. Panarin will make an educated decision based on his comfort level. Some love the spotlight NY brings, some abhor it.

    • I wouldn’t say that Panarin is off the table, but I’m also sure that JG and JD are working on other options, as well. A lot depends on how much it’s going to take re-sign Trouba and Kreider.

      • Agreed. I see Gorton pulling off an out of nowhere trade for a top 6 forward rather than out bid everyone for Panarin. The $11M+ cap hit just doesn’t fit this version of the Rangers at this time.

    • Then God speed to Panarin in Florida. We will also be in the playoff hunt next season. The rebuild is over. We march forward now like General Sherman through the South

    • Well, because most hockey players prefer their name on the cup over a nice golden tan. Although Panthers may arguably be a better team right this moment, I suspect the NY Rangers will come closer than the Panthers over the next 7 years. And winning and living in NY is incomparable to anywhere else in North America.

    • Because we’ll be the better team, maybe not next season but after that … also, would you want to play for a team when half the fans in the arena are Ranger fans? lol

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