The NHL Draft began Friday night and the Rangers were expected to make an immediate splash with the trading of Cam Talbot to one of many interested suitors. Once Friday night passed without a sound from New York's trade table, many suspected the Draft would come and go without much movement from Glen Sather and Rangers management. That assumption quickly proved to be incorrect, as Saturday became one of the busiest days in recent Rangers history.
Inconsistency: the New York Rangers transaction story. New York made multiple moves Saturday, sending Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for two draft picks and Emerson Etem, Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks, and Ryan Haggerty to the Chicago Blackhawks for Antti Raanta. In addition, the Rangers made a series of draft picks that ranged from brilliant to mind-boggling. That range fits perfectly as a representation of how the Rangers management operates. For every solid move they make comes an equally upsetting move, mainly caused by cap problems or their love for size and grit.
First, the Carl Hagelin trade was not all that bad. Sure, the Rangers traded a valuable depth player when they are looking to get better, not worse, but Hagelin was due for a raise and then due for a new deal as a UFA next offseason. The Rangers were not about to keep Hagelin moving forward, so as much as it hurts to lose him, trading him was not a bad idea.
Those I have spoken to that followed Etem in his brief career say the 23 year old winger is much like J.T. Miller, while also being a classic case of needing a change of scenery. Etem holds the potential of being a penalty kill replacement for Hagelin if he gets a little help from the coaching staff, and is known best for his work in the neutral zone. It is widely believed that Etem has a lot of potential as a former first round pick, and that if he is put on a line with at least one legitimate playmaker he could score 20-25 goals in time. Etem should start on the third line, with untapped ability that could launch him into a top six spot. Etem played with rotating bottom six players in Anaheim, so it is up to Alain Vigneault and the Rangers to find the right spot for Etem.
With that positive came a negative, however, as the main draft pick acquired in the deal was used to select Ryan Gropp, a winger many in the know were not particularly fond of. With prospects like Daniel Sprong, Oliver Kylington and Jeremy Bracco still on the board, this selection straight off the bat disappointed.
Next, New York finally traded Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers for a trio of draft picks. With rumors swirling earlier that the Rangers could get a first rounder for Talbot, the eventual price tag was a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick. The Florida Panthers reportedly believe their package was preferable to the one the Rangers received, but Glen Sather wanted Talbot moved to the West over the East.
The approach from the beginning should have been to get the best package possible, and it appears the Rangers failed in that regard. Even if a first round pick was never being offered,there were rumors of a pair of second round picks as well. In a loaded draft the Rangers could have used the better picks, but Sather flew too close to the sun and paid the price.
via Steve Zipay of Newsday:
"At times, it looked like it might have been a better deal. It didn't manufacture that way," Gorton said. "In any scenario, we would have liked more. We tried to push to get more, but I think we did OK . . . We were dealing with five or six teams in the last couple weeks, and at times it got more heated than others.
"A couple goalies got traded and it shifted. Things change all the time, and it changed a lot this week. When you go back to teams, sometimes their offer is not on the table the way you remembered."
Moving Talbot was necessary, however, and Sather made up for his botched negotiations by moving Ryan Haggerty for Antti Raanta. Haggerty is essentially Danny Kristo in that he may make the NHL as a scorer, but doesn't offer much else than a nice shot and a warm body. Moving Haggerty does not hurt the Rangers in the slightest, while acquiring Raanta offers the Rangers highly capable backup goaltending at $750,000 cap hit. Can't ask for much more out of a deal for a backup goalie, so Sather impressed with this one.
The Rangers draft continued with the selection of Robin Kovacs, a steal at 62nd overall, and then Sergey Zborovskiy, one of the worst picks in recent draft memory. Kovacs has great potential to be a capable winger in the NHL, while Zborovskiy was barely on most draft boards, appearing to be no more than a big body with a big shot. In the NHL big shots do not go a long way, and Zborovskiy does not offer much else besides size. Size once again proved to be an issue, as valuable players were passed over to get players with that quality.
Overall, the day was not a bust or a success for the Rangers. With the loss of Hagelin the penalty kill took a major hit for New York, but the swapping of Talbot for Raanta and draft picks was solid. Moving forward the Rangers will need to trade Kevin Klein to get additional cap space to use on a penalty killer/top nine forward, but there are no signs that the Rangers will do so.
What was proven once again today is that Dan Girardi is standing in the way of a New York Rangers Stanley Cup victory. Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but Girardi's albatross of a contract continues to make the Rangers move away valuable depth players and fan favorites. Girardi handicaps the Rangers in a way I have not seen before, as he not only negatively impacts the team on the ice, but he also destroys them on the cap sheet.
Meanwhile, fan favorite tandems Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin and Cam Talbot and Chris Kreider were broken up. I must say that the Rangers teams over the past couple of seasons were my favorite I have ever rooted for, mainly because the team was so close with each other. Hopefully Etem and Raanta fit in well with the crew, but it is always unfortunate to see great guys leave the team because of the cap situation.
I mean just look at these:
This picture being liked by Derick Brassard on instagram:
And this tweet:
Hopefully there is more to come for the Rangers, such as a Kevin Klein trade or in a perfect world a Dan Girardi trade with his moving his no trade clause. Expectations are low, however, as for every positive transaction Glen Sather and management makes, comes a negative.