Digging deeper into the Rangers acquisition of Ryan Strome
Last week we encountered the first decent sized move for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers, which dealt Ryan Spooner for Ryan Strome. Spooner of course was a piece within the Rick Nash trade the Rangers made with Boston as well as rough-and-tough guy Matt Beleskey, a decent prospect in Ryan Lindgren and a few draft picks also coming to the Rangers.
Now with Beleskey buried in the AHL (most likely for good) and Spooner gone we see the remnants of this trade are just the prospect, Lindgren (also in the AHL) and K’Andre Miller, the Rangers second pick in the first round of last year’s draft. If you’re not familiar with this player you should look him up, the Rangers traded the first-round pick they acquired from Boston to move up to grab him.
No One Is Safe
Now why tell you all of this? Well because obviously the current players on the Rangers don’t seem to be safe from Gorton’s rebuild. Though we’ve seen the Rangers in the past 10 games go for 8-1-1 that shouldn’t defer Gorton from selling as many skilled veterans before the deadline as he can.
Spooner was not as productive as he was during the 20 games he played with the Rangers last season. While Spooner did tally 4 goals and 12 assists in that span, this season we saw a complete turnaround where he only managed 2 points (1G, 1A) within a 16-game span. New head coach David Quinn is showing that he likes to play the hot hands, leaving aging defenseman Brendan Smith out during their recent winning streak and now dropping Brady Skjei off the roster for the past two games. Skjei, who is second in Average Time On Ice (ATOI) behind Neal Pionk, looked to handle the large workload on the blueline this season after the trade of former captain, Ryan McDonagh.
This tells us as Rangers fans that no one is safe under this new regime (even though Cody McLeod is the new Tanner Glass). Players such as Zuccarello, Hayes, Vesey, Kreider, Namestnikov, Zibanejad, Fast and maybe even Skjei need to keep playing with effort and showing results or else they might not be a part of this team at the end of the season.
Personally, I think this is a great way to motivate and make the team better as a whole. Obviously, this resurgence for the Rangers that no one saw coming shows that this system works to a certain extent. Now I understand that it’s only November, but this can weed out the players who aren’t willing to give 100% all the time. This means finishing checks, making smart passes and communicating with their teammates effectively. The Rangers are on the brink of becoming a serious contender if they can make smart trades at the correct times.
After his first practice with the Rangers, Ryan Strome said he “couldn’t believe the work ethic these guys had.” Just from a first glance at his new team, Strome knows he must bring it all or face watching the game from the Chase Bridge, especially with Zuccarello only out for a short time. Maybe that’s why Quinn likes McLeod so much. Maybe McLeod shows work ethic and earns his spot every shift, every game and every practice. Obviously, something is working, or the Rangers would still be treading water at the bottom of the standings.
Spooner didn’t show that effort he displayed last season and other players such as Howden, Chytil, Vesey and many others did. Now I’m not saying this is the only reason the Rangers accepted the Ryan for Ryan trade but I’m sure it was a factor. Quinn is there to help develop these younger players the same way he did with all the Boston University products that ended up in the NHL over the years he was there. Quinn has a say in who he thinks would delay any other players progress and for the time being his decisions have produced results, so Gorton should be slightly more inclined to listen to his head coach.
Don’t Be Fooled
My main concern going forward this season is that the Rangers organization will start to believe this team has a legitimate shot for the playoffs, which would be a mistake. Although this trade is a good stepping stone towards a better future (if Strome turns out to be that first round pick he was supposed to be) trading for a shot at the cup now would still be a mistake. Trading guys you cannot realistically see within your lineup in the next few years would be the right call. Chytil, Howden, Andersson and Pionk look to be apart of this Rangers future and Jeff Gorton needs to say goodbye to some hometown favorites sooner, rather than later.