Most of the New York Rangers trade talk has been on Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, but Adam McQuaid is another player likely to be moved.
Defenseman Adam Mcquaid has been a strong asset on the blue line for the New York Rangers. With his contract expiring at season’s end, he is slowly becoming an expendable commodity on a young rebuilding team.
McQuaid was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins when the Rangers sent Steven Kampfer, a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round (conditional) pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to Beantown. The 32-year-old defenseman had played his entire eight-year professional career with the Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
As a member of the Rangers defense, the rugged defenseman is averaging 17:45 of ice time in 34 games. He missed 21 games from Oct. 25 through Dec. 16 with a lower-body injury. Since returning from that injury, the Blueshirts are 11-14, and the defenseman has averaged 18:14 of ice time per game picking up two goals and three points in 25 games.
An unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, he has joined fellow UFA’s Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello as potential players who will be moved prior to the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday, Feb. 25. He’s been a consistent player on a struggling blueline at times, and with the team most likely missing the playoffs, moving him would bring in more youth which is the direction the organization is continuing to move in.
Over the last few days, interest has increased for the veteran defenseman. TSN’s Bob McKenzie mentioned McQuaid as an option for the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Monday, McKenzie would go on to state he believed the Rangers could get a fourth and seventh-round pick in a deal for McQuaid, which is what the Blueshirts gave up for him last September.
Some other possible landing spots are a return to the Bruins or even to the rival New York Islanders. These are all teams who believe they have a chance to go deep in the playoffs and could use a defenseman who brings toughness, doesn’t commit many turnovers, and makes wise decisions during a game.
Over the last few weeks, McQuaid has been partnered with Brady Skjei and head coach David Quinn likes what he’s seen from the two.
“Him [McQuaid] and Brady have really played well together. I think Brady Skjei has by far played his best hockey of this year”, Quinn said to Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “I think Adam’s had something to do with that, but I also think one of the reasons Adam’s playing well is because he’s playing with Brady. I think they’ve both fed off each other.”
The most popular question out there is, “Why would you trade one of the teams most steadfast defenseman?”
Well, the answer is more complicated than you may realize. Entering Tuesday’s contest with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers are 11 points behind the Montreal Canadiens who sit in the second wild-card position entering play Feb. 19.
Making the playoffs is a long shot, that’s just the reality of the season. The benefits of trading a player like McQuaid and gaining potential draft picks for the future clearly outweigh re-signing him right now. The team is still in a rebuilding mindset, and the future of the Rangers success relies on these tough decisions that need to be made in the next six or seven days.
The appearance of the organization giving up on this season couldn’t be further from the truth. These hockey decisions are something every team is involved in, and the front office needs to be as realistic as possible. They must understand how the next few seasons are critical in the progression of this team.
Now that doesn’t make any of these impending decisions any easier. The Rangers have three excellent players who are all sitting in the same boat. It’s an impossible situation to win from an organization standpoint. As every day draws closer to Monday’s deadline, the value in return the Rangers can get slowly diminishes.
Adam McQuaid will absolutely help a team with their playoff run, his playoff and Stanley Cup Finals experience is what most teams need on their club this time of year.
Unfortunately for the New York Rangers, that kind of experience and leadership is not what they need right now.