Why Derek Stepan was a foreshadowing to trading Brady Skjei

Many will say that the true start of the rebuild began with the controversial trade of Derek Stepan. On June 23rd, 2017 the Rangers traded Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for Tony DeAngelo and the 7th pick of the draft which they used to select Lias Andersson.

Trading Derek Stepan

The immediate reaction was the Rangers made a huge blunder. Some sites pointed to the fact that Derek Stepan was a #1 center, and others called it a mistake almost a year after the deal.

Back in December 2016, I wrote 2 pieces that received considerable flack. Addressing the 800lb Gorilla in the Room and Stepan’s Production is a Concern . The issue some writers and fans had is that Stepan’s analytics were on par with other #1 centers in the league not named Sidney Crosby. Not only was that a terrible assessment based on stats, but his contract was going to have a No Trade Clause kick in that summer. In essence, handcuffing Jeff Gorton to a declining forward’s $6.5M deal.

Trading Brady Skjei

Enter Brady Skjei in 2020. At only 25 years old and with good offensive numbers, you would figure he’d be the perfect piece to this rebuild. Of course. extending Kreider and needing to pay upcoming free agents had something to do with trading his $5.25M cap hit to Carolina for a first round pick, there was something else. You see, just like Stepan the window to trade him without restriction would have ended after next season when his modified no trade clause kicks in. That’s the one big factor in the decision no one is talking enough about. If this was just about money, the Rangers could have picked up that cap space by buying out or trading Lundqvist and possibly Marc Staal.

New York has one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL. That is evident when looking at defensemen who play the left side. Currently on the roster is Ryan Lindgren whose emergence has certainly taken the organization by surprise. Waiting is blue chip prospect K’Andre Miller who should push for a spot next season at camp. Throw in prospects Libor Hajek, Yegor Rykov, Tarmo Reunanen, and Zac Jones and the Rangers are set on the left side for years to come. Given all this, the Rangers couldn’t find themselves stuck with Skjei and possibly having to trade him for less than what he’s worth due to a clause in his contract.

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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