Jeff Gorton continues to shine for Rangers as the trade deadline passes
Since the Rangers sent out what is now known as “the letter”, Jeff Gorton has done an extraordinary job of rebuilding. In the face of a very difficult situation, the Rangers GM has done a masterful job of getting the most for his aging assets.
Moves after “The Letter”
On February 8th, 2018 the Rangers made the decision and commitment to rebuild. They sent out a letter to season ticket holders to let them know that the current results weren’t good enough and that the fans deserved better.
Their first moves were too unload veterans at the deadline with the most prominent deals being Rick Nash to Boston, and Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller to Tampa.
In the Nash deal Gorton obtained Ryan Spooner whom he flipped for Ryan Strome. He also took Boston’s 1st round pick and moved up in the draft to select defenseman K’Andre Miller who is excelling in college. Also in the deal, defenseman Ryan Lindgren who looks like he can make the team soon. The cherry on top is a 7th rd pick in this upcoming draft.
The real blockbuster was moving McDonagh and Miller to land a huge package. In that deal the Rangers stood firm that center Brett Howden be included and it has already paid off. Howden looks to be a top 9 forward for the next decade. Throw in offensive defenseman prospect, Libor Hajek and forward Vlad Namestnikov and you have a great deal if that was all they received.
Gorton also got 2 draft picks from Tampa in that trade. One in which he used to make the 1st rd selection of defenseman Nils Lundkvist and a 2nd round pick that could become a 1st rd pick in 2019 if Tampa wins the Cup.
Sticking with the Plan
After having a strong draft that was highlighted by picking offensive young stud Vitali Kravtsov 9th overall, Gorton continued his good work. He traded for depth defenseman Adam McQuaid whom he just flipped for 2 picks and a prospect.
However the biggest move of the off season was firing Alain Vigneault to prove that the rebuild was also going to have a new leader behind the bench too. That person turned out to be Boston University coach, David Quinn.
Quinn’s no nonsense approach and holding people accountable no matter what your paycheck says is a breath of fresh air. He wants the game played fast and furious which requires young legs to get it done. Gorton is delivering exactly what Quinn needs to succeed.
In his first season behind the bench, Quinn has kept the Rangers competitive and gotten the most of his young players. He has also turned Mika Zibanejad into the number 1 center we all knew he could be. The hiring of Quinn is just another great move by a GM focused on a future of winning.
The 2019 Deadline and Further
Leading up to today, Gorton made a few small moves. By flipping minor leaguers and Cody McLeod, Gorton acquired Connor Brickley who is in the lineup now, Darren Raddysh, and two 2020 7th rd picks.
By the closing bell of the trade deadline, Gorton flipped three UFA’s in Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and McQuaid for one 1st rd pick, a 2nd rd pick that may become a 1st rd pick, a 4th rd pick, and 7th rd pick in the upcoming draft.
Add to the mix a gritty young forward Brendan Lemieux, defenseman prospect Julius Bergman, and a 2020 3rd rd pick that could become a 2020 1st rd pick if Zuccarello signs with Dallas. After a deep breath you realize this is an extremely impressive string of moves in the span of a year.
Building a Cup Contender
For Jeff Gorton this isn’t just about building a playoff team, this is about creating a culture and a team that is destined to win another Cup in NY. It may take another 2-3 years for it come to fruition but the Rangers are on that path.
Henrik Lundqvist will be eventually replaced by Igor Shestyorkin and the defense will be turned over to players like Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, Sean Day and others.
The offense will be led by Vitali Kravtsov, Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, and Lias Andersson. Of course, all this could be bolstered with key UFA signings like Artemi Panarin as well. There are just so many possibilities now.
Rebuilds aren’t easy and fans of the Broadway Blueshirts should take a step back in order to see the forest from the trees here. What Jeff Gorton has done since the Rangers made the announcement is nothing short of tremendous and he and the organization deserve a great amount of credit.