Exclusive: Newsday’s Colin Stephenson on the Rangers trade deadline and more

Colin Stephenson (Newsday)

Earlier today I had the pleasure of speaking to Newsday Sports’ Colin Stephenson about the Rangers and these next few days leading up to the trade deadline.

On Deadline Strategy

I asked Stephenson about what the strategy would be for the Rangers in terms of trading players, questioning the motives behind it. He claims that the big risk in not trading them is potentially losing them for nothing in the offseason, citing the Islanders as a example of this phenomenon last offseason. He makes the point that the Rangers are in a rebuild and that, even if they would like to keep these players, they can’t risk losing them for nothing as opposed to receiving assets in return.

On Zuccarello

On the potential of bringing Zuccarello back on a hometown discount, Stephenson notes that Zuccarello would have a “significant value to the team” if they can re-sign him, but that the real question is whether they can agree on the right price and term

On Kevin Hayes

On the idea of agreeing to a contract with Kevin Hayes, he says that a big question is whether or not he will be worth the money during the last year of his contract when he is around 31 or 32 years old. On that note though, he also claims that if he was the GM he would maybe consider keeping Hayes but understands that you “can’t just keep swapping out 26 year old guys for 20 and 21 year old prospects and 18 year old draft picks”.

Trade Values

On the return for Hayes and Zuccarello, Stephenson says that Hayes will likely fetch a bottom-end first round pick and a prospect. Zuccarello should bring back not a first rounder since he’s older, but probably a second rounder and a lower-end prospect.

After the Deadline

On how these trades would affect the Rangers for the remainder of the season, he predicts that they’re not going to win as many games, and that someone like Ryan Strome or Lias Andersson will get more time on the upper lines.

Prospect of trading a player like Andersson

In terms of potentially trading Lias Andersson due to his AHL struggles, Stephenson says that as long as the return is good enough that he would consider packaging him. But at the same time, he feels that Andersson is going to be a good player in the NHL. An important fact that he noted was that Andersson was drafted 7th overall and has been expected to play as such, even if he had a slightly lower draft value consensus among the other teams.

A Tense Locker room

On the mood in the locker room, Stephenson says its been very tense and that the mood has changed dramatically in a negative way since the team returned from their recent road trip. Previously, the team would just push it off saying that the deadline is still a little ways away but now that it is so close, the room is not normal.

After the Deadline

On next steps, he says the Rangers will bring up some guys and get young prospects into the lineup. He notes that several of their top prospects, like Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller, wouldn’t be available to play for the team. He says guys like Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, and possibly even John Gilmour should get chances to play with the team this year. But he also states that everything depends on what moves are actually made.

On the Coach

On David Quinn and how he’s has performed this year, Stephenson say that he has been excellent and that he has been “wonderful” and “a breath of fresh air for the organization,” citing his emphasis on accountability and teaching.

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