Rangers Rebuild ushers in new era of hope with franchise altering deals

Miller and McDonagh (Getty Images)

The Rangers made an enormous statement today. In an 11th hour blockbuster trade, Ryan McDonagh along with J.T. Miller were sent to Tampa Bay for 5 pieces.

The Deals

D: Ryan McDonagh and F: JT Miller to Tampa Bay for C: Vladislav Namestnikov, D: Libor Hajek, F: Brett Howden, a 1st round pick (2018), Conditional 2nd round pick (2018) which will turn into a 2019 1st round pick if they win it all this year or next.

The Lightning are going for it. There’s no doubt here and they are getting a stud defenseman and an excellent forward. McDonagh, who is 28 has some wear and tear on him and will command a huge contract next summer. Miller is a 24 year old winger, that gives them excellent depth and versatility. He also replaces Namestnikov.

For the the rebuilding Blueshirts, they obtain 5 pieces in which to advance the future. 25 year old, Namestnikov is an important player in this deal. He is a center, a position the Rangers are not deep at. We know that Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson are centers who will play next season, but adding another is a smart move in order to put them in a position to succeed.

Namestnikov is 5’11” and 180lbs and can flat out play. He has 44 points in 62 games this year and will slot into the Rangers #2 center position when he gets here. Hajek is another defenseman prospect who is 20 years old and projected to be a top 4 blue liner. He’s now the 4th defense prospect acquired this month. Howden is a big center at 6’3″ that is a strong 2 way player. He has been projected to be a 2nd or 3rd line center.

By acquiring another 1st rd pick, the Rangers now have 3 in what is considered to be a very deep draft.

Rick Nash to Boston for F: Ryan Spooner, D: Ryan Lindgren, F: Matt Beleskey, a 1st round pick and a 7th round pick. 

Boston gets a rental in Rick Nash but he certainly bolsters their lineup for a Cup run. The Rangers add a versatile forward in Ryan Spooner who is only 26 and picked up 2 assists in his debut. Ryan Lindgren is a 20 year old defenseman prospect that the Bruins selected in the 2nd round in 2016. He is considered a physical blue liner that can provide the occasional offense. Matt Beleskey will most likely be traded at the draft or remain in the AHL.

Michael Grabner to New Jersey for D: Yegor Rykov and a 2nd round pick.

The Devils get a rental forward that can fly and help them make the playoffs this season. However, in the long run the Rangers make out like bandits here.

Yegor Rykov is a 6’2″, 216lbs hulking defenseman from the KHL and is only 20 years old. He plays a solid 2-way game and has risen up the NJ prospect rankings. He is also a teammate to Lundqvist’s heir apparent, Igor Shestyorkin. Added plus here is a 2nd round pick in a deep draft.

Nick Holden to Boston for D: Rob O’Gara and a 3rd round pick.

Boston added some depth on defense in acquiring Holden who is a rental. Gorton flipping him for a 3rd round pick and a low end defense prospect was another good move.

Looking Ahead

Namestnikov (Getty Images)

The Rangers stood at the edge of the rebuild cliff and have jumped. To be fair, Jeff Gorton could make more moves at the draft in order to move up or bring in other players they feel will expedite becoming competitive again.

To be fair, I don’t expect the Rangers to lure a John Tavares on July 1st’s free agent frenzy.  Here’s an early snapshot at what the Rangers will be looking at next season at each position:

Centers: Mika Zibanejad, Vladislav Namestnikov, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Boo Nieves

Wingers: Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Spooner, Jesper Fast, Vinni Lettieri

Defense: Brady Skjei, Kevin Shattenkirk, Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, John Gilmour, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Rob O’Gara

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Alexander Georgiev,

Knocking at the door: 

D: Sean Day, Ryan Lindgren, Sergey Zborovskiy, Libor Hajek

F: Adam Tambellini, Ty Ronning, Ryan Gropp

G: Brandon Halverson

Embrace the Rebuild

Jim Dolan gave his blessing to rebuild. It is now known that the Rangers owner went to Glen Sather and Jeff Gorton to tell them that just making the playoffs isn’t good enough. He wants to win the Cup and he wants to do it through the draft.

That means growing pains and plenty of them, but it’s different when you see young promising kids make a mistake instead of underperforming veterans. The mix was bad and it showed on the ice. Of course, a huge question needs to be addressed and that is the man behind the bench. That will only be answered when the last game is played this season, so no need to perseverate over it now.

The NHL draft is in June and the Rangers have a lot of chips to play. The chance to get the 1st overall pick and land franchise defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin grows with each loss. There also exceptional forwards like Brady Tkachuk, Filip Zadina, and Andrei Svechnikov. The possibilities are endless.

After a series of heartbreaking playoff losses dating back to 2012, and this disappointing season, Rangers fans have something special. That something is hope. Embrace it, savor it, and enjoy it.

Embrace this rebuild.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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