The Best Off-Season Trades In Rangers History

USA Today

Is it too late for New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton to declare his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election? If not, then I know one state in the Union that the 51-year-old executive-of-the-year-to-be would win handily and it’s not his home state of Massachusetts.

In an absolute stunner of a move, Gorton acquired former Winnipeg Jets defeseman Jacob Trouba for the incredibly average blue-liner Neal Pionk and the 20th overall selection in this year’s draft. A pick that originally belonged to the Jets, mind you. The trade itself is not what has shocked the hockey world. Some media outlets, including our wonderful staff here at Forever Blueshirts, have been all over the Trouba to the Rangers connection.

What has caused jaws to drop all over North America was the return sent to the Great White North for the budding star defenseman, Trouba. This transaction is, simply put, thievery. Word on the street is that the Canadian Mountie units in the province of Manitoba have been given strict orders not to let the aggressively instinctual Gorton leave town under any circumstances. OK, OK I will dismount my hyperbolic horse and return to serious business.

Gorton, who bears a striking resemblance to the character Buddy Revell from the 1987 cult classic, “Three O’Clock High,” electrified Rangerstown with this Trouba transaction as well as his many other foundational moves over the last three seasons. He has sent this Rangers rebuild into “Ludicrous Speed” as the Blueshirts will hope to return to playing meaningful games passed St Patrick’s Day. As the Garden Faithful continue to wax poetic about Mr. Gorton and his myriad of exciting acquisitions, let’s look back at some other acts of off-season larceny committed by some of Gorton’s predecessors.

June 30th, 2009

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Without question, Glen Sather’s biggest heist in his 15-year tenure as Rangers general manager. Somehow, some way, Sather convinced Bob Gainey and the Montreal Canadiens to take on the absurd contract of the grossly overpaid forward Scott Gomez. The complete trade was as follows:

“The Rangers sent Gomez, forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto to the Canadiens in exchange for forward Chris Higgins and defensemen Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh, and Pavel Valentenko.”

McDonagh was thought to be a throw-in of sorts. Little did anybody know that #27 would become a beloved captain of the Blueshirts and be the cornerstone of the Ranger blue-line for several years. Jettisoning Gomez and his onerous contract paved the way for Sather to sign the Slovakian sniper Marian Gaborik soon after.

September 3rd, 1991

Mike Powell

As the 1991-92 season approached, former general manager Neil Smith continued to look for and add character and leadership to the Ranger locker room. Smith signed little known Edmonton Oilers forward Adam Graves to a restricted free agent contract. The rules pertaining to free agency were far different and somewhat archaic back in those days. Without boring you with the details, an independent arbitrator had to rule on what was considered adequate compensation for Graves. Then-Oilers boss Glen Sather demanded some of the better Ranger prospects. Smith offered the rugged enforcer, Troy Mallette. Smith won the arbitrator battle. Graves was a Ranger, Mallette was shipped off to western Canada and the rest is, as they say, history.

September 30th, 1987

Phil Esposito is pure hockey royalty. Truly, one of the greatest players of the post-expansion era. “Espo” was the first player in NHL history to notch a 70-goal season. It would probably take a few hours to list all of his accomplishments as a player. His track record as Rangers general manager, however, left a lot to be desired and that is saying it nicely. Espo did have a few shining moments, though.

Just prior to the commencement of the 1987-88 season, the Rangers and Quebec Nordiques completed a trade that sent Terry Carkner and Jeff Jackson to French Canada in exchange for John Ogrodnick and David Shaw. Ogrodnick would go on to have a 20-goal, 30-goal and 40-goal seasons while wearing the Broadway Blue. Shaw, a serviceable defenseman, was used as bait by Neil Smith to acquire Jeff Beukeboom from Edmonton in 1991. Beukeboom, as we know, became an integral piece of the 1994 Stanley Cup championship team.

In case you were wondering, the biggest theft/heist in Rangers history, the acquisition of Mark Messier in October of 1991, was consummated just after the season had already started and did not fit the criteria of this piece.

This magical Rangers off-season will only get better with the NHL Entry Draft on June 21st (Kaapo Kakko?) and the commencement of the free agency signing period on July 1st (Artemi Panarin?). The Garden Faithful continue to pinch themselves to make sure this isn’t all a big, elaborate dream. Of course, Stanley Cups are not awarded based on off-season transactions. It will be up to coach David Quinn and his staff to make it all work once the season starts in October. Be that as it may, this Jacob Trouba trade has a legitimate chance to go down in Rangers history as one of the more one-sided transactions and John Davidson and Jeff Gorton deserve every ounce of praise and adulation they are assuredly receiving.

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