Grading the Rangers’ Most Recent Blockbuster Deadline Deals

The New York Rangers are once again primed to ship off veteran players at the 2020 NHL deadline on Feb. 24. Chris Kreider remains towards the top player on TSN Hockey’s Trade Bait List and the long-time Ranger might not be wearing the red, white and blue come the end of the deadline. Jesper Fast, Alexander Georgiev, Tony DeAngelo and Brady Skjei have also been named as other candidates to be possibly dealt.

Since the Rangers sent “the letter” in Feb. 2018, general manager Jeff Gorton has been committed to focusing on the future and building up prospect pools and draft picks. Now that New York might be forced to deal at the deadline and beyond at the draft, let’s take a look at some of the key recent trade deadline and draft day deals for the Blueshirts.

Derek Stepan Trade (June 23, 2017)

This is the trade that “started” the Rangers’ rebuild back in summer 2017, when Gorton shipped Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for Tony DeAngelo and a 2017 first-round draft pick. The Rangers dealt Stepan, one of the Blueshirts top centers, who needed a new deal.

Tony DeAngelo Rangers
Tony DeAngelo, New York Rangers, Sept. 26, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The return for the Rangers in this deal turned out to be eye-opening, especially considering the current 2019-20 season. For the Rangers, DeAngelo has transformed from a trouble-making youngster to an offensively dominant defenseman. The 24-year-old has accumulated 45 points in 59 games, good enough for tied-sixth in the NHL for points from a defenseman. DeAngelo has been a force for the Rangers this year and he has developed into a solid second-pair defenseman.

However, the first-rounder in the deal turned out to be gritty forward Lias Andersson. As many fans know, the Andersson situation is a bad one for the Blueshirts. (from ‘Rangers must answer for curious handling of Lias Andersson mess,’ New York Post, 01/09/2020)The Swede totaled just nine points at the NHL level in 66 games, and it could be safe to say that Andersson is a bust.

Overall, the trade was very 50/50 for Gorton, and the Rangers got very lucky with the development from DeAngelo.

Grade: B

Rick Nash Trade (Feb. 25, 2018)

Right before the Feb. 2018 trade deadline, New York opted to ship veteran power forward Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins. The Blueshirts dealt Nash for a massive combination of Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 seventh-round selection.

The 2018 first-rounder turned out to be defenseman Nils Lundqvist, who is playing exceptionally well in Sweden this season. Gorton also eventually swapped Ryan Spooner for Ryan Strome, but that will not be factored into this trade grade.

Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, NHL
Rick Nash as a Ranger (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

However, Lindgren has been a formidable defensive piece this season for the Rangers, providing help on the third-pair of assistant coach Lindy Ruff’s defensive system. Lindgren has stood out at times because of his very physical play on the backend. The main aspect in this deal is Lundkvist because of his rise in the league prospect rankings over this season. The return that Gorton received has turned out to be mesmerizing, as the Rangers have been the obvious winners from this deal.

Grade: A

Ryan McDonagh Trade (Feb. 26, 2018)

Late on 2018 trade deadline day, after the Nash trade, Gorton made the blockbuster of the day. Veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller were shipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 conditional second-round pick.

At the time, Gorton believed he was receiving a king’s ransom for the stud defenseman and average forward. But, this trade never turned out to be a solid one for New York, even through 75 percent of the 2019-20 season.

Brett Howden New York Rangers
Brett Howden, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Howden is an NHL third-liner at best, Hajek has been struggling with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, and Namestnikov was eventually dealt to the Ottawa Senators after early-season struggles. The return for McDonagh and Miller clearly didn’t develop into enough for the Rangers, and Gorton got the shorter end of this deal.

Grade: C-minus

Kevin Hayes Trade (Feb. 25, 2019)

Kevin Hayes was shipped to the Winnipeg Jets at the 2019 trade deadline for some key pieces that are currently with the Rangers. Hayes was dealt for physical forward Brendan Lemieux, a 2019 first-round pick and a 2022 conditional fourth-round selection.

Related: Rebuilding Rangers Continue to Compete

The Rangers eventually dealt that first-round draft pick directly back to the Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba. Looking at it from its original perspective, the Rangers did pretty nicely from this deal. Lemieux has turned out to be an integral part of New York’s roster this season and he’s become a fan favorite. Hayes signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason for a sum that the Rangers avoided to pay in the first place, so this trade truly made sense from an organizational standpoint.

Overall, the Rangers made it out fine in the aftermath of the Hayes trade, and Gorton turned it into another good deal in acquiring Trouba.

Grade: A-minus

Related: Rangers Probably Can’t Keep Both Kreider and DeAngelo

The Rangers will have decisions to make at the 2020 deadline and things won’t get any easier for Gorton and the front office. Kreider, Fast and other veterans may be experiencing their last few hours as a Ranger. It will take years to fully evaluate the impact of New York’s deadline trades, but the trades the Rangers make will spark interest from around the league.

Get the latest New York Rangers news, rumors, commentary and analysis