The New York Rangers will look to be buyers during the upcoming trade deadline on Mar. 21, as they’re in a position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17. Under the unique playoff format of the 2019-20 season that was affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rangers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round of the playoffs and failed to advance to the first round.
Previous general manager (GM) Jeff Gorton and then-Team President Glen Sather sent a letter to Rangers fans in February 2018 that the organization would be undergoing a rebuild. A little over four years since, the Rangers have turned the corner from rebuilder to contender, as they have remained within the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division during 2021-22. Barring a collapse, they are poised to clinch a minimum of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Here is a look at the recent trade deadline deals over the past five seasons in addition to the five best and worst trade deadline deals throughout the team’s history.
Rangers’ Trade Deadline Deals the Last Five Seasons
On Mar. 27, the Rangers traded Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft — forward Brody Lamb was selected by the Rangers with the pick. Lemieux is known as a bottom-six, pesky forward, and he demonstrated that ability in over two seasons with the Rangers.
The Rangers and Hurricanes engaged in a trade on the deadline date of Feb. 24, with the Hurricanes acquiring defenseman Brady Skjei in exchange for their first-round pick in the 2020 draft. The Rangers ended up trading the pick to the Calgary Flames, who traded it to the Washington Capitals.
Braden Schneider ended up being selected by the Rangers with the pick from the Flames, and he has a promising future in the NHL as he has debuted in 2021-22. The Rangers had hopes that Skjei would be a top defenseman for them, but it did not come to pass.
Mats Zuccarello, a fan-favorite during his time with the Rangers, was traded to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 23. The Stars acquired him in exchange for a 2019 conditional second-round pick and a 2020 conditional third-round pick. “Zucc,” as Rangers fans dubbed him, was one of the cornerstones of the roster. He was a member of the team for over eight seasons, including the years when they were a Stanley Cup contender during 2013-14 and 2014-15. Moving on from him was one example of the Rangers rebuilding their roster.
The Winnipeg Jets acquired Kevin Hayes on the deadline date of Feb. 25. Lemieux, a 2019 first-round pick, and 2022 conditional fourth-round pick were traded to the Rangers. The Rangers traded Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Julius Bergman, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick, and a 2019 seventh-round draft pick on the same date.
The Rangers would begin to move on from players who were instrumental to the franchise’s success by the deadline date of Feb. 26. Rick Nash went to the Bruins for Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 seventh-round pick. Former Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller were acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning for Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 2018 first-round draft pick, and a 2019 conditional second-round pick.
The Rangers’ most notable trade by the Mar. 1 deadline was on Feb. 28 when they acquired Brendan Smith from the Detroit Red Wings for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft and a 2018 second-round pick. The defenseman would spend over four years in the Rangers organization. He signed a contract with the Hurricanes last offseason.
Rangers’ Five Best Deadline Trades
Rangers Get Familiar Foe in Gartner From North Stars
Mike Gartner tormented the Rangers for several seasons when he was a member of the Washington Capitals. He was on the Capitals from 1979-80 until they traded him during the 1988-89 campaign to the then-Minnesota North Stars. Then-general manager (GM) Neil Smith was aggressive at making deadline trades and acted upon the opportunity to acquire a player who had success against the Rangers.
The Rangers acquired Gartner on Mar. 6, 1990, for Ulf Dahlen, a fourth-round pick in the 1990 draft, and future considerations – a fourth-round pick in the 1991 draft. He made an immediate impact offensively for the Rangers and would for the next few seasons. They’d eventually trade him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Glenn Anderson and a 1994 fourth-round draft pick on Mar. 21, 1994.
Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!
During the 1993-94 season, then-head coach Mike Keenan was partial to players who comprised grit over finesse. He insisted Smith acquire a few players he coached previously with the Chicago Blackhawks, as they had made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final during the 1991-92 season with Keenan as head coach.
Keenan wanted Smith to trade for Stephane Matteau, so the Rangers traded talented forward Tony Amonte and the rights to Matt Oates to the Blackhawks for Matteau and Brian Noonan. The Rangers GM was not a fan of the trade initially as Amonte was a talented player even though he struggled in the head coach’s gritty playing system.
However, the Rangers would go on to win their first and only Stanley Cup to date since 1940. The Cup victory was due in large part to the trades Smith made on the deadline date of Mar. 21. Matteau scored the series-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final to send the Rangers to the Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks.
Brassard Acquired In Multi-Player Trade For Gaborik
It appeared Marian Gaborik was not as effective as he once was for the Rangers, which was the reason he was traded along with Blake Parlett, and Steven Delisle to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 2014 sixth-round pick on Apr. 3, 2013. Brassard played well for the Rangers for over three seasons before he was traded during the offseason after the 2015-16 season. He was involved in a multi-player deal with the Ottawa Senators that involved Mika Zibanejad.
Nash Traded For Lindgren and 2018 First-Round Pick
Nash would end up retiring at the end of the season the Rangers traded him. He was acquired by the Bruins in a multi-player deal that was mentioned above. The Rangers moved up in the 2018 draft in order to select K’Andre Miller. The two young defensemen have been in the lineup regularly for the Rangers the last two years.
Replacing Skjei With Schneider
As mentioned earlier in the post, the Rangers acquired a first-round pick in the 2020 draft for Skjei at the deadline. They used that pick to move up three spots in the first round of the draft to select Schneider. The 20-year-old defenseman has displayed his potential with the Rangers after being called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack this season.
Schneider has maintained a spot on the third pairing of the young Rangers defensive core. Their third defensive pairing has been a continuous rotation of a young player to pair with Patrik Nemeth. Head coach Gerard Gallant should continue to put Schneider in the lineup for the remainder of the season and in the future.
Five Worst Deadline Trades
Rangers Traded Ferraro in Multi-Player Deal
The Rangers traded Ray Ferraro, Nathan Lafayette, Ian Laperriere, Mattias Norstrom, and a fourth-round pick in the 1997 draft to the Los Angeles Kings for Jari Kurri, Shane Churla, and Marty McSorley on Mar. 14, 1996. The main part of the trade was Ferraro for Kurri, as the latter was an established veteran who played well for the Oilers and Kings. The former went on to have a few good seasons with the Kings and the then-Atlanta Thrashers.
Kurri only spent the remainder of the 1995-96 year with the Rangers, as he was viewed as a significant addition to a team looking to win a second Cup in three seasons. However, it did not happen, and he was with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks the following year before retiring after the 1997-98 season with the Colorado Avalanche. The trade was another example of Smith retooling the roster in preparation for the playoffs, but the team did not win a Stanley Cup, unlike a few seasons prior.
Rangers Traded Knuble to Bruins
Smith traded Mike Knuble to the Bruins for Rob DiMaio on Mar. 10, 2000, in what turned out to be his last season in the GM position for the Rangers. Knuble went on to have a fine career for a few seasons with the Bruins, as well as the Philadelphia Flyers and Capitals. DiMaio did not provide the level of offensive production at the NHL level that Knuble did.
Bure Acquired Past His Prime
Pavel Bure had interest from the Rangers for several years before the Rangers eventually acquired him. For all of his ability, he dealt with his share of injuries during his career. He was traded from the Panthers, along with a 2002 second-round pick for Filip Novak, Igor Ulanov, two 2002 draft picks, and one 2003 draft selection. Bure only played the remainder of the 2001-02 season and 39 games of 2002-03 with the Rangers. The 2002-03 season was the last year in the NHL for the Hall of Famer.
Duclair Traded to Coyotes
Anthony Duclair has done well for the Florida Panthers this season and in 2020-21. The Rangers traded him, John Moore, a 2015 second-round pick, and a 2016 first-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, and a 2015 fourth-round pick on Mar. 1, 2015. Duclair has developed into a dependable top-six forward for a contending team in the Panthers. His production would fit in well with the Rangers, who could use him as they have a lack of depth at forward on their top-six.
Captain McDonagh & J.T. Miller Acquired by Lightning
During the team’s commitment to rebuilding, several players from the team’s last Cup Final appearance were traded. McDonagh has won two championships since his trade to the Lightning, and Miller is currently the Canucks’ top offensive player. There has been speculation that the Rangers may be a suitor by the deadline for the Canucks’ top forward.
The players the Rangers received in return for McDonagh and Miller are either no longer with the team (Namestnikov, Howden) or do not play consistently (Hajek). The Canucks will want some of the Rangers’ young players in exchange for Miller. If the Rangers get Miller back, they would be giving up more talent for a player they used to have.
The Rangers will be buyers this year after being sellers for the last several seasons. The franchise is aiming to win a championship while players such as Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome, and Zibanejad are still playing well in the prime of their careers. It remains to be seen if president/GM Chris Drury would be willing and how much of the team’s young talent he would part with by the deadline in order to improve the roster.