Revisiting the NY Rangers fire sale trades

To get to where they are today, the NY Rangers engaged in multiple fire sale trades in 2018 and 2019. This was after they sent the now famous letter, signaling the much needed rebuild. Then came the first fire sale, the trade deadline of 2018. The Rangers would continue the fire sale in 2019. Trades are best evaluated at the time of the deal, but we have the value of hindsight here. Let’s see how the opinions changed over time.

2018 Fire Sale

This fire sale was highlighted by the trades of Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, and Ryan McDonagh/JT Miller.

Rangers acquire Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, a 1st and a 7th for Rick Nash

Our initial reaction had this trade as an absolute haul. We called Lindgren a solid, but not top prospect. Of course we whiffed on Spooner being a good piece to get back. The 1st round pick was used to trade up to get K’Andre Miller. The 7th round pick was traded to Carolina for a 2018 7th rounder, used on Riley Hughes.

This is still a haul for the Rangers in 2020. Miller and Lindgren are solid pieces. Spooner was eventually turned into Ryan Strome, which is a solid trade. This was great asset management.

Rangers acquire Rob O’Gara and a 3rd round pick for Nick Holden

The fact that the Rangers got something for Nick Holden was surprising. The Rangers drafted Joey Keane with that 3rd rounder, who later turned into Julien Gauthier.

Gauthier is a nice prospect, and time will tell how he turns out. The big opportunity missed here is that Alain Vigneault played O’Gara over Ryan Graves. This led to the Graves trade to Colorado 8 days later, and that didn’t turn out too well.

Rangers acquire Yegor Rykov and a 2nd round pick for Michael Grabner

This trade was shocking because it was from the Devils. At the time, this was considered another absolute haul. Grabner, a true rental and third liner, should not have fetched a solid prospect and an early pick. But it did. The pick was used to move up to draft K’Andre Miller.

In 2020, this is still a steal. When you combine the Nash and Grabner trades, the Rangers netted Miller, Rykov, and Lindgren. I know that’s cheating, combining trades like that, But that’s possibly 1/3 of the blue line of the future. The Rangers won’t keep them all, but three potentially solid NHLers at this point in their development is good trading.

Rangers acquire Vlad Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 1st and a 2nd for Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller

This was the trade that was questioned from the start. Getting Point or Sergachev was never really on the table, but Hajek and Howden weren’t exactly screaming top prospects. Miller and Namestnikov were considered a swap, and I was genuinely intrigued by Namestnikov on Broadway. Hajek was apparently the sticking point here following a strong World Juniors, and Howden was projected to be a middle-six center “if everything panned out.”

In 2020, this is a giant miss by the Rangers. Hajek and Howden are just flat out bad, and this is partially because the Rangers rushed them. For reasons we don’t know, both were in the NHL the following season and it did not look good from the start for either of them. Now they are whipping boys.

The saving grace is the 1st rounder, used on Nils Lundkvist. I am very high on him. The 2019 2nd was used on Karl Henriksson, someone else I am very high on. Even if Hajek and Howden are whiffs, Lundkvist likely won’t be. Henriksson is a wild card. But this trade, two years later, looks really bad.

2019 Trade Deadline

This fire sale was highlighted by the trades of Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, and Adam McQuaid. The Zuccarello trade was a tough pill to swallow for many people.

Rangers acquire Julius Bergman and 4th/7th rounders for Adam McQuaid

When the Rangers acquired McQuaid to start the season, there were questions. Clearly the Rangers thought they would get more from him at the deadline. At the time, getting 4th and 7th rounders (Bergman being a body) was fine, but the Rangers also gave that up to get him. in essence, the Rangers moved back in both rounds in this deal.

The Rangers moved back in both rounds, but McQuaid was a solid stopgap for that season. They drafted Hunter Skinner (4th) and Eric Ciccolini (7th) with those picks. This was one of the best drafts in recent memory for the Rangers, so that’s a win.

Rangers acquire Brendan Lemieux and a 1st round pick for Kevin Hayes

This was another win for the Rangers. Hayes was going to price himself out of New York, and getting a roster player and a 1st rounder for Hayes was the going rate. Landing Lemieux, who has the potential to be a premier pest, was a good move. Getting that additional 1st rounder was always the goal.

Fast forward a year, and that additional 1st was sent back to Winnipeg with Neal Pionk for Jacob Trouba. Lemieux has solidified himself as a bottom-six winger as well. The Trouba contract aside, landing him for that 1st and a net-gain by losing Pionk was also a win. It’s tough to find a fault with this trade.

Rangers acquire a 2nd round pick and a 3rd round pick for Mats Zuccarello

This is the trade that hurt. Many were outraged that the Rangers didn’t get more for Zuccarello. At the time of the deal, both picks at the potential to be 1st rounders. However the Stars missed the Conference Final in 2019, and Zucc didn’t re-sign with the Stars that offseason. So both picks stayed the same. That was the market value for a player like Zuccarello. The emotional toll was rough, but it was a fair trade.

The Rangers drafted Matthew Robertson with the 2nd rounder, and promptly signed him to an ELC. It’s rare that teams sign a draftee outside the top few picks to an ELC straight after the draft. That’s how highly the team thinks of Robertson.

All in all, the NY Rangers fire sale netted them some solid prospects and assets. The McDonagh trade is really the only glaring bad trade on this list. It’s a big miss, given it was their most valuable piece(s). That said, the Rangers came away with one of the top prospect systems in the league. It’s hard to argue with those results.

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  • The club’s best move appears to be when Stepan was shipped to the Desert Dogs. The jury is still out on Lias, but ADA is really turning out to be a offensive dynamo on the Blue line.

    Jt for Names was a horrible swap. Tampa ended up getting a 1st pick for Miller from Vancouver. New York got a 4th rounded for Names when they shipped him the Ottawa. JT was undervalued when he played for the Rangers.

    The Rangers finally landed Trouba which some felt they needed in the worse way. Now there are rumblings that he isn’t living up to the high expectations that was expected when he signed his lucrative multi-year contract. This was a overreach by Gorton and a contract that will hamstring the club in years to come.

    Its too early to see how all the draft picks the Rangers have accumulated will pan out. But they do look promising.

  • “The saving grace is the 1st rounder, used on Nils Lundkvist. I am very high on him. The 2019 2nd was used on Karl Henriksson, someone else I am very high on.”

    The jury is still way way out on this one. It will have to be evaluated over the course of time, perhaps in another 2-3-4 years. The jury is even out on Hajek and Howden tbh although I think it’s safe to say neither will turn out to be the biggest piece of this trade — it’s really going to come down Lundkvist and Henriksson.

  • I Think all you you will be wrong about Hajek, I think he has upside and whether its on Broadway or another team Libor Hajek will become a top 4 pairing defenseman.

  • I agreed on trading McD, but they should have gotten much more. Trading Miller was not something I was in favor of, but perhaps they felt they could not sign him. But again, I don’t think they got what they should have.

  • Defensemen tend to take a bit longer to develop. WAYYYY too early to give up on Hajek! The Tampa trade today does look bad, but Hajek still has some time to tip the scales back a bit.

  • Evaluating trades at the time of the trade and after a year is challenging. Not sure we did anything great with any of our draft picks. The best thing that happened to us is coming in 2nd and grabbing Kakko and winning the lottery this year – neither was a result of a traded pick.

    It is almost time for us to move picks for quality players.

    • Lundkvist will be a staple on our defense for years to come … and the same might be said for Miller, so I would say right now the draft pick aspect of the trade looks awfully good. It’s the “players” we got back that are more questionable. Time will tell.

  • And Howden, this site’s punching bag, takes another! You should just be copying and pasting these comments by now…..would save you time; and maybe give you a chance to write about something other than a weekly(at least)slur at this kid.

  • Rykov being 1/3rd of the Rangers blue line is a bit hopeful since last season was far from stellar and he’s since signed in the KHL

    Howden wasn’t rushed. He burst out of the gates with 12 pts (4g 8a) in his first 21 games. All while showing a solid work ethic and willingness to go to the tough places. What more do you want from a bottom 6 pivot or a rookie and he was both!

    His play took a toll on the young man’s body ultimately leading to injuries. We never know how much injuries are impacting players these days and what they’re working through. The sophomore slump is common and well justified. Time will tell if the Rangers should have demanded Cirelli instead of Howden, though hindsight is 20/20.

    Jrs, WJC, a short stint in the AHL, and the first half of his rookie year, Howden showed the same qualities you want in a bottom 6 pivot, work ethic, 3-zone play, and the ability to chip in on the occasional goal. Let’s see how the 22 y/o continues to develop in his 3rd year.

  • When we got close to the 3pm deadline on Trade day…it was being reported that McDonagh was going then, you heard Miller was going to be a part of the trade…I was pissed but then I thought, oh, wow, we are going to get Mikhail Sergachev, we have to, with all that we are giving up.

    Then the details of the trade started to come in and it was all a collection of hot garbage.

    Gorton should never trade with retired HOF player executives.

    Yzerman underdressed him twice and Sakic, right when he knew Gorton was vulnerable…he swooped in and robbed him

    We lost McDonagh, Miller and Graves and gained Nils Lundkvist, this kid better be the 2nd coming of Erik Karlsson, because if he isn’t…those two traded will go down as two of the worst trades in Ranger history and we have a long history of bad trades.

  • Trades is gambling….Blame the cap system which forced the fire sale.
    After living through the franchise altering trades with the Bruins in the era of the Cat, these trades look like amateur hour to me.
    The talent we let go and the return is not measurable yet….
    Three to five more seasons.

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