The trade deadline has come and gone for the Rangers, and they didn’t make any significant moves. They weren’t short on rumors, with them potentially being involved in cap money laundering to facilitate other trades. However nothing came to fruition. That’s just fine, quite honestly. They added Zac Jones, which was a surprising signing. As per usual, I have some thoughts on the Rangers trade deadline.
1. Standing pat was expected, and probably the best course of action for the Rangers. There wasn’t much action on the trade market, and the Rangers didn’t have many assets to deal anyway. Of the pending UFAs, only Brendan Smith had any real value, and even that was a stretch. Could he have fetched a mid-round pick? Probably. But is he worth more in the locker room than as a mid-round pick? Looks like the answer there was a resounding yes.
2. As for the RFAs or anyone with another year left on their deals, the expansion draft was the wrinkle here. Players like Pavel Buchnevich or Ryan Strome, whose future are not 100% guaranteed in New York, could have fetched a legitimate haul if there was no expansion draft. Any acquiring team would need to protect an asset like this, and these competing teams usually don’t have protection spots to spare. Yea COVID and a flat cap mattered here, but not as much as I initially thought. There were teams willing to step in to launder cap space. In the end, it’s the protection spots that stopped bigger trades. At least involving the Rangers.
3. As for the one move they did make, signing Jones, that came out of left field. All reports were that he wanted to go back for his Junior season. They burned a year of his ELC to do it, but the trade off is that he does not have any performance bonuses. Basically he traded a prorated salary for any potential bonuses that he likely may not have earned. It’s a win for both Jones and the Rangers here.
4. Details on the contract have not been made public, and there are a lot of questions. The cap hit is unknown, but even that isn’t what we are looking for. The big detail is whether or not Jones will have arbitration rights after his 2022-2023 season. There are mixed signals here, and no one seems to have a straight answer. There is also no straight answer on whether or not his ELC would have been three years had he returned to UMass next season. Only arbitration really matters here, but the rest would certainly at least give us clarity on the situation.
5. Two last contract notes. First, Jones is expect from the expansion draft. Second, his contract will expire alongside K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere, and Morgan Barron. That will be one year after Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, and Adam Fox all expire after 2021-2022. It’s one year before Matthew Robertson, Hunter Skinner, and Braden Schneider all need new deals. The Rangers have a ton of talent hitting some level of free agency in that three year span. They did their best to spread it out. You can argue that burning a year this season is actually better contract management as it spaces things out more. Don’t expect all of these guys to be with the Rangers when their contracts expire though. It’s just a numbers game.
6. Expect Jones to get into the lineup at LD as soon as he can. I’d expect him to get a week of practice, much like Vitali Kravtsov. Kravtsov also had to quarantine, but I’m unsure if Jones, who was not traveling internationally, will need to follow the same protocol. If he does, then he won’t be in the lineup for two weeks, assuming the week of practice. That puts him in line for the April 27 game against Buffalo. If it’s just a week of practice, then maybe the April 20 game against the Isles, or the April 22 game against the Flyers. I’m sure more info will come soon enough.
7. Jones will get in the lineup over Libor Hajek, with Brendan Smith staying in the lineup at 3RD. Hajek has been objectively bad, and it’s time the Rangers just take the ‘L’ on the McDonagh trade. Hopefully Nils Lundkvist turns into something great, but Hajek and Brett Howden are duds at this point. Jones is a significant upgrade, and he’s been receiving great praise from many prospect guys.
Very. He’s excellent. Not Adam Fox excellent, but still excellent. Creeping up on the same tier as Lundkvist, and a better prospect, IMO, than Schneider. Wouldn’t bet against him becoming a good top four D.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) April 12, 2021
This is high praise for Jones from Scott Wheeler. In all likelihood, Jones has already leapfrogged Matthew Robertson on the LD prospect depth chart.
8. It wouldn’t be a Rangers trade deadline thoughts post without mentioning him. Jeff Gorton said that he did receive a few calls on Tony DeAngelo, but in the end nothing made sense. They will buy him out this summer. As mentioned yesterday, unless there was a significant trade offer, a buyout made more sense as the cap hit was much more manageable than a 50% retained trade. Apparently the Rangers were ok with a mutual termination, but DeAngelo refused to go on waivers for it. Smart move by him.
If DeAngelo agreed to terminate w/ #NYR, he would lose $1M this year + $5.3M next year ($6.3M total).
If he's bought out, he'll lose $3.53M (2/3 of next year's $5.3M Salary).
Waiting for the buyout saves him $2.76Mhttps://t.co/JedTZXgzD7
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 12, 2021
In the end, he gets an extra $2.76 million for sitting home and waiting for his buyout. Montreal will still be there this summer.
Call ups and other prospects
9. With the trade deadline passed, attention will go to recalls. Morgan Barron is the one folks want to see, and Jeff Gorton spoke about him as well. The Rangers get four recalls between now and the end of the season. Expect Barron to be one. I’d venture a guess Tarmo Reunanen will be one too. I wonder if Ty Ronning will be a third?
10. Gorton expects Nils Lundkvist to join the Rangers next year. This year is tough, as Lulea is in the playoffs and then it goes right to the World Championships. Lundkvist, like Jones, is likely going to get a spot right out of camp next season.
11. Lucky number 11 to close it out this year’s Rangers trade deadline thoughts. If Lundkvist (21 next season) and Jones (20) make next year’s team, they will join Miller (21), Fox (23), Ryan Lindgren (23), and Jacob Trouba (27) as by far the youngest blue line in the league to start the season. Given how good the current top four has been, adding two great prospects like Lundkvist and Jones is scary good depth.