Thoughts following the Rangers lack of moves at the trade deadline

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.

Standing Pat

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.

Zac Jones

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.

This is high praise for Jones from Scott Wheeler. In all likelihood, Jones has already leapfrogged Matthew Robertson on the LD prospect depth chart.

Tony DeAngelo

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.

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.

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  • Not making any moved tells me that the coaching staff will also take the status quo. Using the top 2 lines much more than the bottom 2. I guess this is okay while we are still in the hunt, but the 3rd line needs minutes.

    If we bring up Barron, I suspect it will be when we are closer to playoff elimination, as it makes no sense to bring him up only to be part of the taxi squad or get under 4 minutes on the 4th line.

    Two players who lose in this scenario are DiGuiseppe and Gauthier. As 4th liners and taxi squad mainstays, they probably will not see the ice again this year.

    • Turning down the one NHL team that was interested in Tony DeAngelo is pretty much the most Tony DeAngelo thing ever.

      • On the surface, sure … “it’s a Jersey thing”, ooops, I mean it’s all about the Benjamins. Mutual termination and then sign with Montreal for under $1M? ADA loses money. Rangers trade him to Montreal while retaining 50% of his salary? Rangers lose money. Rangers trade him, no retention? Good luck paisan!

      • Guy is gone…you should be happy…don’t hate him for getting paid or not willing to give up millions to appease your feelings.

        The Rangers agreed to those terms and wanted a redo when they didn’t want him anymore…that is another brilliant move by Gorton.

  • #5 — A lot of fixating on the length of the contracts, but it’s fine … there will be bridge deals sprinkled with a few long term deals (Fox for sure, maybe Miller as well). Thing is, if you’re not playing big time minutes, if you aren’t on the PP and if you aren’t putting up big numbers, your salary will be depressed come the expiration of your ELC — and here is where Management can take advantage of our Top 6F and Top 4D depth (having guys like Strome and Buch), by taking a chance with some longer term deals where the numbers aren’t quite there yet (like Chytil and Kakko). For another example, how much can Morgan Barron expect if he plays a year or two on the 4th line? Plus we have replacements, especially on D with Schneider and Robertson.

    JG will have to be gutsy and leverage our riches … and they’ll have to show conviction, belief in some of their prospects before the numbers catch up — no easy task, but who should know their players better than the FO?

      • If they get Eichel I will think, “same old Rangers”. He’s good, but he’s no savior — clearly based on Buffalo’s performance every single year he’s been there. Talk about overpriced, overhyped and overpaid.

        • I can’t imagine the Rangers getting Eichel.At 10 mil per for the next 5 years and big contracts coming in the next 3, the Rangers couldn’t afford to pay everyone. Even if they give up Zib, unless they get rid of Trouba contract(NMC?), they won’t be able to. I think the first to be paid areLindgren.Buch, and Chytl as RFA.

          • I don’t think it would happen but from a wishful thinking perspective Trouba is a Michigan guy, Yzerman always seemed to take pleasure in poaching from the Rangers. Instead of targeting Eichel target Dylan Larkin.

          • Gorton should never ever trade with Yzerman again…that guy is flipping flapjacks in Gortons head.

  • Signing Jones is a nice surprise. We’ll have more clarity on that when we see the deal. Sitting tight made a lot of sense. We are in good shape for the expansion draft, we have a lot of assets and a ton of cap space to work with in the off season. The 2018 and 2019 drafts are looking pretty darn good at this point. Our D prospect pool is really solid. I can see us working a prospect for prospect deal with LA at some point. Their Center depth matches up with our D Depth pretty well.

    I thought the deadline was a bit of a dud in general. Covid, flat cap, expansion draft all contributing factors. Not only deciding to rebuild was important but the timing actually appears to have worked out well for us. It would have been unfortunate if we were trying to move assets now. Think about the haul we got for Rick Nash from Boston vs what Buffalo got for Hall and Lazar? Maybe lucky, but some times timing is everything.

    Looking forward to seeing Jones and Barron at some point before the end of the season,

    • Andy – I was actually quite surprised at the amount of activity given the current environment where Cap space rules.

      Seeing what Yzerman got for Martha will tell you everything you need to know about the Buffalo operation and what they got for Hall

    • Hall hasn’t been the same player since his injury in NJ … he’s been uninspiring and underwhelming. At least when Nash’s scoring started to dip he was already a COMPLETE player.

  • As this is the 3rd year after the “letter”, it is time this team takes the step of making the playoffs. I am talking about next year. We have very good veterans and some strong youngsters with potential. We need to be able to roll 4 lines of very strong players that can compete 5v5.

    At the upcoming draft, I would expect some tinkering with the roster. Too many good young defensive prospects make for a good problem. Too thin down the middle leaves a gap. Expect there to be a move to alleviate these issue. Not so sure Eichel is the solution.

    If DQ is still the coach, I expect more of the same until guys give him reason to play more than 7 minutes a game.

  • Eventually it will most likely be Jones, Lundkvist, Robertson and Schneider fighting for last line of ‘D’.
    Lundkvist has a lot of hype. Schneider has snarl to his game and doubt Rangers part with him. 2 of the 4 names above could get traded in a big trade.

  • Would be mistake to burn at this moment 1 year contract of Jones, and saying Hajek is bad is not objective statement, considering he is pared most of the time with “mr icing” Brendan Smith and mostly plaing with lower offencive lines

  • Sorry. I am not following. Are you suggesting to put Jones in the lineup now but keep Morgan out for now?

  • Another asset signed. nice!

    I know, I know, many think that the Rangers don’t know how to draft–Lias Anderson! Hang Gordie Clark and Jeff Gorton! But, let’s see: In the same draft as their pick of future Hall of Famer Lias Anderson they got Filip Chytil. Beyond the recent obvious choices of Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko, they drafted K’Andre Miller and people were scratching heads but…look who is on the team now. They drafted who? Vitali Kravtsov? Yes, yes they did! And, a goalie named Igor from Russia a few years ago. Not too shabby. And we will see how they pan out, but Zac Jones and Nils Lundqvist and Matt Robertson and Bradon Schneider all look like they could be NHL players.

    On trades, yes Steve Yzerman ate their lunch on the McD & JT trade. But, a couple of 2nd round picks brought them Adam Fox from the Hurricanes. And Brassard brought them Mika Zibanejad. They even got a good year and a half out of Tony Deangelo, which is more than Arizona got out of Stepan! So, lets see what they do now that they have a lot of you people and maybe not quiet enough spots. Good trouble!

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