Analyzing Rangers’ history of trading 1st-round draft picks

NHL: New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are considered Stanley Cup contenders this season, yet still need to be buyers at the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline to shore up the lineup heading into the most grueling stretch of the season.

Recently, there’ve been mixed rumors about whether the Rangers are willing to trade their first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. However, in today’s hockey economy, to land an impact player, the Rangers may have to deal away a first-rounder to get the results they desire.

Since the NHL implemented an amateur/entry draft in 1963, New York has traded away 14 first-round picks, landing two Hall of Famers in those deals. Of course, not all of these trades were successful, but at the time, they probably made sense because, as mentioned, landing impact players aren’t cheap.

Related: Rangers 2024 trade board

Rangers have dealt away their first-round picks 14 times

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Aug. 29, 1974

To New York: Greg Polis

To St. Louis: Larry Sacharuk and 1977 first-round pick (8th overall Lucien DeBlois)

The first time the Rangers traded away a first-round draft pick occurred in 1974 when they dealt their top selection in the 1977 Amateur Draft and Larry Sacharuk to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Greg Polis. Interestingly, the Rangers received that first-round pick back in a separate trade and selected Lucien DeBlois. Polis played 275 games with New York, while DeBlois skated with six teams over 15 seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens. DeBlois also helped the Rangers reach the 1979 Stanley Cup Final, when they lost in five games to the Canadiens. Sacharuk played just 151 games in the NHL.

Jun. 2, 1978

To New York: Rights to hire Fred Shero as head coach

To Philadelphia: 1978 first-round pick (7th overall Ken Linseman)

After he guided the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975, the Rangers were interested in hiring Fred Shero as coach for the 1978-79 season. To negotiate with Shero, they traded away a first-round pick that turned out to be Ken Linseman. The pesky center ended up with 807 points in 860 games, racked up 1,725 penalty minutes and helped the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup in 1986. Shero coached the Rangers for two-plus seasons and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in 1979.

Jan. 27, 1988

To New York: Chris Nilan and 1989 first-round pick (20th overall Steven Rice)

To Montreal: 1989 first-round pick (13th overall Lindsay Vallis)

Enforcer Chris Nilan won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens and was traded to the Rangers within two years, where he played 85 games over three seasons. Also included in the trade to New York was a first-round pick, which the Rangers used to select Steven Rice in 1989. Rice played 329 games in the NHL and just 11 with the Rangers, but was part of the 1991 trade with the Oilers that brought Mark Messier to Broadway. Meanwhile, the Canadiens used their draft pick on Lindsay Vallis, who played only one game in the League.

Mar. 23, 1995

To New York: Pat Verbeek

To Hartford: Glen Featherstone, Michael Stewart, 1995 first-round pick (13th overall Jean-Sebastien Giguere), and 1996 fourth-round pick (104th overall Steve Wasylko)

Pat Verbeek was a three-time 40-goal scorer when he was traded from the Hartford Whalers to New York in 1995. Besides acquiring two players, Glen Featherstone (262 games) and Michael Stewart (no NHL experience) at the time, the Whalers picked up a first-round pick they turned into future Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastian Giguere.

Although his stint in Connecticut was short (eight games), Giguere would build his legacy with the Anaheim Ducks in the mid-2000s, while the other pick, Steve Wasylko, never made it into the League. Overall, Verbeek had 97 points in 88 games with the Rangers over two seasons.

Jun. 26, 1999

To New York: 1999 first-round pick (9th overall Jamie Lundmark), 1999 third-round pick (77th overall Craig Anderson), and the rights to Jan Hlavac

To Calgary: Marc Savard and 1999 first-round pick (11th overall Oleg Saprykin)

In 1999, the Rangers and Calgary Flames swapped first-round picks while trading players Marc Savard and Jan Hlavac. After 10 games on Broadway, Savard went to Calgary, and eventually won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. Hlavac played 218 games for the Rangers during a six-year NHL career.

With their top pick, the Rangers selected Jamie Lundmark, who played 295NHL games, skating in 114 on Broadway. Calgary used their top pick on Oleg Saprykin, who had 55 goals in 325 games and spent five seasons with the Flames. Interestingly, the Flames reacquired the third-round pick in this trade and selected goalie Craig Anderson, who opted not to sign with the team, reentering the draft in 2001, when he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jun. 26, 1999

To New York: 1999 first-round pick (4th overall Pavel Brendl)

To Tampa Bay: Dan Cloutier, Niklas Sundstrom, 2000 first-round pick (8th Nikita Alexeev), 2000 third-round pick (74th overall Igor Radulov)

The Rangers selected Pavel Brendl (78 NHL games) as their top pick in the 1999 Entry Draft and included him in the trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that brought Eric Lindros to New York in 2001. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning won this particular trade of first-round selections, acquiring goalie Dan Cloutier (351 games) and center Niklas Sundstrom (750 games) on top of drafting Nikita Alexeev (159 games) and Igor Radulov (43 games).

Mar. 18, 2002

To New York: Pavel Bure and 2002 second-round pick (33rd overall Lee Falardeau)

To Tampa Bay: Filip Novak, Igor Ulanov, 2002 first-round pick (10th overall Eric Nystrom), 2002 second-round pick (40th overall Rob Globke), and 2003 fourth-round pick (116th overall Guillaume Desbiens)

Pavel Bure came to New York in 2002 with 406 goals on his resume and would wrap up his Hall-of-Fame career with the Blueshirts, tacking on 31 more over two seasons. When he was acquired for a king’s ransom from the Florida Panthers, the Rangers dealt away prospect Filip Novak, veteran Igor Ulanov, and three draft picks, including a first, second and fourth.

Ultimately, Novak never played with Florida, while Ulanov skated in 70 games. With their first-round pick, the Panthers traded the pick away to the Flames, who selected Eric Nystrom 10th overall. Regarding the other picks from this trade, Rob Globke played 46 games (all with Florida), and Guillaume Desbiens never skated in Florida but dressed in 23 NHL games.

Jun. 25, 2004

To New York: 2004 first-round pick (19th overall Lauri Korpikoski) and 2004 eighth-round pick (247th overall Jonathan Paiement)

To Calgary: 2004 first-round pick (24th overall Kris Chucko) and 2004 second-round pick (46th overall Adam Pineault)

The Rangers and Flames reconnected in 2004 on another swap of first-round picks. However, this time, no additional players were involved in the deal. With their top pick, the Rangers selected left wing Lauri Korpikoski, who played 68 games in New York and 609 games overall in the NHL, while using their eighth-round pick on Jonathan Paiement, who never played in the League. Calgary drafted Kris Chucko (two NHL games) in the first round before taking Adam Pineault, who would eventually play three games with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Jul. 30, 2005

To New York: 2005 first-round pick (12th overall Marc Staal)

To Atlanta: 2005 first-round pick (16th overall Alex Bourret) and 2005 second-round pick (41st overall Ondrej Pavelec)

In one of arguably the best trades in franchise history, the Rangers made a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005, which led to the selection of Marc Staal, who skated in the sixth-most games in franchise history with 892. The Thrashers used their top pick on Alex Bourret, who never skated in the NHL, but used their second-round pick on Ondrej Pavelec. As a top netminder for the franchise, Pavelec would become the leader in games played and wins until getting surpassed by Connor Hellebuyck after the club moved to Winnipeg in 2011. Pavelev finished his NHL career with the Rangers as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in 2017-18.

Jul. 23, 2012

To New York: Rick Nash, Steven Delisle, and 2013 conditional third-round pick

To Columbus: 2013 first-round pick (19th overall Kerby Rychel), Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon

Rick Nash was the Columbus Blue Jackets’ all-time leading scorer when the Rangers acquired him in the summer of 2012. While in New York, he had 252 points in 375 games before a trade to Boston brought Ryan Lindgren to the team in 2018. Meanwhile, the other player in the swap was Steven Delisle, who never played in the NHL.

Going the other way to Columbus, the Blue Jackets selected Kerby Rychel, who had a brief 43-game career in the League, as their top pick. Also included in the package were Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon, who combined for 650 games for the Blue Jackets, with Dubinsky collecting the ninth-most points in franchise history.

Mar. 24, 2014

To New York: Martin St. Louis, 2015 second-round pick (60th overall Oliver Kylington)

To Tampa Bay: 2014 first-round pick (28th overall Josh Ho-Sang), 2015 first-round pick (28th overall Anthony Beauvillier), and 2015 seventh-round pick (209th overall Ziyat Paigin), and Ryan Callahan

After all these years, the trade between the Rangers and Lightning on March 24, 2014, was just Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan. During the 2014 run to the Stanley Cup Final, St. Louis was an important player, scoring 15 points in 25 games and sparking the club after the death of his mother. Meanwhile, the second-round pick in this deal returned to the Flames in a different team, who selected Oliver Kylington in 2015.

On the other side, Tampa Bay got Callahan, who played 305 games over six seasons with the club, missing out on their championship seasons of 2020 and 2021. Then, in a trade with the New York Islanders, the Lightning sent away their two first-round picks acquired in this deal, allowing the other New York team to select Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier. Additionally, they traded the seventh-round pick to Edmonton, who selected Ziyat Paigin, who never made it to the NHL.

Mar. 1, 2015

To New York: Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, and 2016 fourth-round pick (98th overall Tarmo Reunanen)

To Arizona: Anthony Duclair, John Moore, 2015 second-round pick (60th overall Oliver Kylington), and 2016 first-round pick (Dennis Cholowski)

As one of the NHL’s Iron Man record holders, Keith Yandle briefly skated in New York, playing 103 games over two seasons, netting 58 points, while Chris Summer played six games for the franchise, spending most of his time in the AHL. With their fourth-round pick, the Rangers selected Tarmo Reunanen, who skated in just four NHL games.

Anthony Duclair played 172 games for the Arizona Coyotes and is still playing in the NHL today with the San Jose Sharks, while John Moore amassed 544 games in his career, suiting up for 19 contests in the desert. Surprisingly, the Coyotes didn’t keep either draft pick acquired in this deal, sending the second-round pick to Calgary, who selected Kylington (173 games), and the first-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings, who picked Dennis Cholowski (117 games).

Jun. 17, 2019

To New York: Jacob Trouba

To Winnipeg: 2019 first-round pick (20th overall Ville Heinola) and Neal Pionk

The current captain of the Blueshirts came to New York in the summer of 2019 after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Jets. After 300 games with the Rangers, he has over 120 points and more than 830 hits. In this exchange, the Jets received Neal Pionk, who has over 150 points since the deal, and the club used their first-round pick on Ville Heinola, who has skated only 35 games in the NHL, spending most of the past four seasons in the AHL.

Oct. 6, 2020

To New York: 2020 first-round pick (19th overall Braden Schneider)

To Calgary: 2020 first-round pick (22nd overall Hendrix Lapierre) and 2020 third-round pick (72nd overall Jeremie Poirier)

In 2020, the same season the Rangers drafted Alexis Lafreniere No. 1 overall, they made another deal with the Flames, swapping first-round picks again. This time, New York was able to draft Braden Schneider at 19th overall. The defenseman is a Rangers regular now and has appeared in 176 games since debuting during the 2021-22 season.

Meanwhile, the Flames traded their first-round pick from this trade to the Carolina Hurricanes, who then moved it to the Washington Capitals, who picked Hendrix Lapierre with the 22nd selection. So far, the 22-year-old has only played 21 games in the NHL, while the club retained their third-round pick, for which they selected Jeremie Poirier, who has yet to debut in the league.

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