2024 NHL trade deadline was mixed bag for Rangers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Three months after the 2024 NHL trade deadline on March 8, the New York Rangers season is over and plans are well underway to build a roster than can again compete for the Stanley Cup next season. The three moves made prior to the deadline helped the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final again, but weren’t enough to help them raise the Stanley Cup for the first time in 30 years.

The Rangers didn’t make the sexy move ahead of the deadline. They didn’t trade for a big name like Jake Guentzel or reunite with All-Star Frank Vatrano, who was a nice fit during the 2022 postseason run.

Instead, the Rangers added complementary pieces, to varying degrees of success. They acquired center Alex Wennberg from the Seattle Kraken for a 2024 second-round pick in the NHL Draft and a fourth.-round selection in 2025. They also picked up forward Jack Roslovic from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth-round pick in 2026.

New York also acquired veteran depth defenseman Chad Ruhwedel for a fourth-round selection in 2027.

So, that’s two lineup regulars and Ruhwedel, who appeared in five regular-season games and none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each was a rental and none is expected to re-sign when they all become unrestricted free agents July 1.

The cost, by and large, was minimal, though the Rangers now don’t have a second- nor third-round pick in this draft nor do they have a second-round selection in the next three drafts. But they held on to their first-round pick and top prospects, like Gabe Perreault and Brennan Othmann.

The question, of course, will always remain: could the Rangers have landed Guentzel if they would’ve parted with a first-rounder and/or a key prospect or two? And if the Stanley Cup champion played for the Rangers, what difference would he have made on the top line, power play and, most importantly, against the Florida Panthers in the conference final?

We will never know. And perhaps Guentzel lands on Broadway through free agency this offseason. But that’s for another day.

Related: Rangers’ options to fill right-wing vacancy in NHL free agency

Breaking down Rangers 2024 trade-deadline acquisitions

Removing Ruhwedel from the equation, let’s examine the Wennberg and Roslovic deals made ahead of the trade deadline.

Alex Wennberg

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Realistically, Wennberg performed exactly as should have been expected for the Rangers. So, really, he lived up to his billing in all areas, providing solid play on the third line, most often alongside Will Cuylle and Kaapo Kakko.

He’s never been much of a scorer nor good at face-offs. And that played out with the Rangers. In 19 regular-season games, Wennberg had one goal and five points, and won 45.1 percent of his face-offs. He had one goal — the overtime winner in Game 3 of the conference final against the Panthers — and two points, and won 44.1 percent of his draws in the postseason.

But what Wennberg does do well carried over with the Rangers. He’s strong on the puck, helping create positive puck possession numbers, and he’s very responsible defensively. Wennberg was, as expected, a solid addition on the penalty kill.

The Rangers needed a steady veteran to center the third line with Filip Chytil out injured and not expected to return, and Wennberg delivered that. He certainly didn’t exceed expectations — if he did, perhaps it would’ve helped the Rangers to still be playing. But he didn’t hurt the Rangers either. He just didn’t move the needle much.

Related: Where Rangers stand after NHL salary cap increases

Jack Roslovic

NHL: New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers desperately needed a forward to jell with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad on the top line. And perhaps general manager Chris Drury envisioned another low-cost, high-upside move would fit the bill, just as Vatrano did two years ago.

Problem is, like Wennberg, Roslovic basically was who he’s always been. But that wasn’t nearly enough for the Rangers. As a third-line right wing, which on a good team is likely Roslovic’s best role, sure. But on the top line? Just because he played first-line minutes with the woeful Blue Jackets?

Not good. Not enough.

Roslovic had three goals and eight points in 19 regular-season games. He started hot in the playoffs, with points in five straight games, including his first-ever postseason goal in 22 games. But when things got tougher against the Carolina Hurricanes and Panthers, Roslovic faded, though he did have two assists in Game 6 of the second round against Carolina.

Playing almost exclusively on the perimeter, Roslovic was a non-factor. He scored two goals, each on the power play, early in the postseason and that was it. He had eight points in 16 games, and managed just 21 shots on goal.

Roslovic finished the postseason skating on the fourth line.

His inconsistent scoring followed his career path, where he has 80 goals in 445 NHL games.

Yes, it cost only a fourth-round pick. But choosing to trade for Roslovic instead of someone with a greater pedigree was to New York’s detriment. This was a misfire, one that had ramifications in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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