The New York Rangers did what they thought was best for the team. Now they have to hope they are smart enough to make it worth it come the NHL draft.
The NHL trade deadline turned into a Rangerstown feature as Jeff Gorton and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off a huge trade. The New York Rangers sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Lightning for Vlad Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, a 2018 first round pick and a conditional second-round pick.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and a conditional first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from Tampa Bay in exchange for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. pic.twitter.com/qmfOW2i2CZ
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 26, 2018
It took four trades for the Rangers to change the entire dynamic of the locker room. Four trades to gain the opportunity to begin the rebuilding process the organization has been discussing since the “letter to the fans” was released.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 20, 2018
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 23, 2018
Sunday morning, the Rangers sent Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft, a 2019 seventh round pick, defenseman Ryan Lindgren, and forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. Ryan Spooner wore number 23, played for the Rangers on Sunday night and had two assists in his debut.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, defenseman Ryan Lindgren, forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the Bruins in exchange for Rick Nash.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 25, 2018
Along with the Rangers trade with Tampa Bay on Monday, the dynamic of the team has changed, yet the team still lacks an identity.
The Rangers now have 10 picks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, including six picks in the first three rounds:
- First Round: NYR, BOS, TB
- Second Round: NYR, NJD
- Third Round: NYR, BOS
- Fourth to Sixth Rounds: NYR
So the selloff/rebuild process is well underway. The Rangers have plenty of opportunities to build the team to be a contender, but the work is far from over.
As the team begins it’s draft war room for the 2018 NHL Draft in June, there are plenty of positives for the Rangers to look at as they start the next chapter in the tradition of the Blueshirts.
The kids look good
Neal Pionk, John Gilmour, and Alexandar Georgiev have all played well in unusual circumstances since they have been called up. Pionk has played a lot of minutes, mainly with Brady Skjei as they face the opposition’s top lines each night. Gilmour has looked comfortable on the ice, throwing some big hits along the way and had gotten some power play time.
Alexandar Georgiev might have lost both of his starts last week, but he looks sharp in net. His confidence had been high and his positioning in goal looks like he has been in the NHL for years. He may not stay with the team once Ondrej Pavelec returns, but the experience he gained backing up Henrik Lundqvist is invaluable.
The Rangers now need to use their newfound players and mix that with an impressive draft selection process. The Rangers have no choice but to put all their faith into the scouting department to make this work. That’s not such a sure thing if you look at past draft decisions the team has made.
A successful draft falls on the shoulders Kevin Maxwell, Director of Pro Scouting. He and his team are responsible for getting all the relevant information on the players the organization is considering looking at selecting. With five picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, pro scouting will be busy from now until June.
Trading away the likes of Holden, Grabner, and Nash, McDonagh and Miller is just the beginning of rebuilding. The organization must be smart with all of these first-round draft picks.
As the season continues post-trade deadline, the Rangers are in bad shape on the ice and in the locker room. They have just traded their top scorer in Grabner, a six-year veteran in Nash and their number one goalie has slipped into a bad losing streak after carrying the team on his shoulder for most of the season.
The team was having enough trouble finding their identity before, now the restructured lineup, the team looks even more confused on the ice as they look for someone to lead this team. Their captain still remains on sidelines with an upper-body injury.
Mats Zuccarello could be the leader everyone is looking to now but it has been a tough stretch for him too as he sat and waited to hear his name called as the next trade victim on Broadway.
The great Ranger sell-off was huge and had a few surprises. The next step is now in the hands of the General Manager. The direction of where this team goes will once again take a new direction in June at the NHL Draft.
The Rangers have a long laundry list of what they should do next. Such as;
- Play hockey as a team again.
- Find a new leader now that McDonagh is gone.
- Get Henrik Lundqvist back to winning games.
- They need to nail the draft.
- Find a solid back up goalie.
- They need a captain.
- Have to re-establish the blue line.
What’s next will be a question the organization will be asking for a long time.
It’s with great hope that Ranger fans never have to go through a three month period like what has happened in New York since January.