NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: Brady Skjei #76 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal at 18:23 of the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In a surprising move, the New York Rangers are trading defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for a draft pick.

In the final minutes of the NHL trade deadline, the New York Rangers still had one move left to make. According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, Rangers’ defenseman Brady Skjei is going to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a first-round pick.

Reports came out earlier Monday that Carolina was showing interest in Skjei, but the financial aspects of the deal made it unlikely to come together. The deal comes as a surprise after Carolina acquired New Jersey Devils‘ defenseman Sami Vatanen.

The Rangers acquire a first-round pick in the deal. This move seemed to be a necessity after the Rangers extended Chris Kreider earlier in the day. The Rangers needed to find a way to create cap space and moving Skjei’s contract made the most sense.

After his rookie season, it just never seemed to work for Skjei. Despite that, the Rangers rewarded the mediocre defenseman with a large contract extension. He was never the top-pair stud the Rangers needed him to be, and his 2019-20 campaign on Broadway has inconsistent.

New York selected Skjei 28th overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft.

The deal helps answer the question of how the Rangers are going to create cap space. They have a number of pending free agents this offseason including Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast, and Ryan Strome.

The deal could also mean the return of Libor Hajek. The Rangers’ defenseman prospect has been in Hartford most of the season. He did have a stint with the Blueshirts earlier in the season, but it was short-lived. Yegor Rykov could also be an option along with Brendan Smith moving back to defense full-time.

The Rangers are set to have 10 picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.