Something of a throwback here, but it was big enough to make my ears perk up. In the always fantastic 30 Thoughts column from Elliotte Friedman, there's an awesome paragraph about how Mats Zuccarello was mentored by Martin St. Louis. I love that type of stuff, and you should read the column for that alone.
What I found interesting was this tidbit (bold is my emphasis):
Aho played briefly in Finland with Aleksi Saarela, acquired in the Eric Staal trade. Did that factor in getting him? "No. He wasn't considered to be their top prospect, but of the people made available, he was the one we liked best. That choice made the most sense for us."
When discussing the Eric Staal trade I was less than pleased the Rangers gave up Saarela to cement the deal -- even though I was pleased the Rangers facilitated it without losing a first round pick. From my analysis on the move:
To me Saarela ranked just behind Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and Robin Kovacs in terms of non-goalie prospects. He's an enormous price to pay for a pure rental the Rangers will not be able to hold onto this summer. Which means the Rangers are sacrificing their safety net (again) for another run at the Cup. So they better win it. Does this sound familiar?
I think it's pretty clear Pavel Buchnevich and Brady Skjei were two of the players the Rangers did not make available. I would have to assume Igor Shestyorkin was also someone the Rangers wouldn't part with but that's more speculation than the "common knowledge" of the two above him.
I would assume (read: really hope) Robin Kovacs was a player the Rangers didn't make available in the deal. After a second-straight Allsvenskan MVP award and a second-straight year of leading his team of men in a men's league in scoring as a teenager, I would think the Rangers realize what they have in him. Important note: Allsvenskan isn't the junior league or AHL of the SHL; it's the second tier -- similar to the way soccer has tiered league. Kovacs' AIK lost in their final-round playoff series to get promoted last week. So for him to lead his team in scoring as both a 17 and 18-year-old is very impressive.
Also, not to get too excited about him, but his 18-year-old Allsvenskan numbers (21-13-33 in 44 games) are right on par with Filip Forsberg's numbers at that age and in that league (15-18-33 in 38 games). There's a lot to be excited about here, and while his defense is a question, his ability to score goals and create offense has to have him near the top of the list in terms of prospects in the system.
Kovacs aside, I would assume the Rangers made guys like Adam Tambellini and Ryan Graves available. Maybe even Cristoval Nieves and Steven Fogarty -- both who signed with the Rangers on Monday more on Nieves here and Fogarty here -- were made available since the Rangers hadn't signed them yet and could avoid that situation.
I think the Rangers are far too high on Ryan Gropp (even though I don't agree) to dangle him in a deal -- and I think because of where he went Carolina might have been very interested in him. I'm sure Brad Morrison and even Sergey Zborovskiy were spoken about, but I'm not positive either would have really done it for Carolina since both are still very raw prospects.
I'm curious who you guys think the Rangers might have been willing to part with. Obviously we'll never know who the Rangers did make available but it would certainly say a lot about who they happen to be high or low on.