The New York Rangers have traded veteran forward Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second-round draft pick and defensive prospect Igor Rykov, Darren Dreger announced Thursday night following the Rangers 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. This is the first trade between the Devils and Rangers in history.
Grabner to the Devils for a 2nd and Rykov is complete.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 23, 2018
The Rangers were expected to be one of the busiest teams this deadline as they publicly set their sights on the future with a letter to the fans. Grabner is one of what is expected to be many pieces moved from the Rangers as a result. The winger is now the second player this week that the team moved after they sent Nick Holden to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
Related: Rangers Trade Holden to Bruins
At 30 years old with nine NHL seasons under his belt, Grabner brings some veteran experience into the Devils locker room as a part of this season. One of the more intriguing names on the trading block heading into the 2018 Trade Deadline, Grabner’s combination of skill, speed, versatility and special team prowess make him a major find for New Jersey within their own division.
To top it all off, Grabner’s $1.65 million cap hit was one of the most interesting ones on the market, especially when considering the Devils are paying only the remainder of the contract from now until the end of the season.
With 25 goals and 31 points in 59 games so far this season, Grabner is doing his best to play himself into a new contract next season. On pace for upwards of 30 goals, Grabner is having arguably his best season since his sophomore year in 2010-11 when he scored 34 goals and 52 points in 76 games with the New York Islanders.
Related: 2018 Trade Deadline Deal Tracker
On top of his offensive potential, Grabner’s speed has made him a lethal weapon on the penalty kill throughout his career. While it may not be as flashy a tag-line as “30-goal scorer,” there’s no doubt that teams in contention took note of what Grabner can do when down a man.
Being able to play on either wing was also a big selling point for Grabner as he can play up-and-down the lineup on either wing for the Devils as they look to bolster their team for a deep postseason run. Versatility is something that teams love and Grabner’s style of play lends to that more than most players who found themselves available in a trade this season.
Devils Looking to Return to the Playoffs
While the Devils may have been among the lottery teams in the NHL last season, they’ve turned the page this year and are looking like a legitimate threat to make the postseason with a 31-22-8 record. After losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 to the Los Angeles Kings, things went south for New Jersey who have yet to return to the playoffs in the five seasons since.
With Grabner on the roster, the Devils gain an invaluable piece to try and compete in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan division. Trading away a second-round pick and a prospect like Rykov is simply the cost of business in the NHL and it’s a move the Devils clearly feel comfortable in making as they make a concentrated effort to take the next step in their development.
Rykov has spent the last three seasons in the KHL and has scored two goals and 14 points in 51 games from the back-end this season with St. Petersburg SKA.