As the 2022 trade deadline looms over us, inching closer by the minute, many NHL GMs are scrambling to find the best deal out there. If the New York Rangers’ GM Chris Drury decides the price is right, the team could be involved in one or more big name acquisitions throughout the next week. Theories are flying and rumors are spreading, but let’s take a step back from all that hoopla and take a trip down memory lane.
We’re going to revisit recent trade deadline deals, follow up on some of the loose ends such as prospects or draft picks that have changed hands, and ultimately try to decide if that year’s deadline could be labeled successful or not. The goal is to review a few deadline years over the next week to give ourselves a bit of a reprieve from all the chaos—a brief rest by the campfire, if you will.
2020 Trade Deadline
While we all know the wild ride that the end of the 2019-20 season brought, as the February 24th deadline approached that year, no one had yet heard of COVID-19 and the only thing on any Ranger fan’s mind was the deadline. Previous seasons had seen the Rangers sell off many of their major impact players, but this year was a bit different. The team was still technically in the hunt for a playoff spot and there was a decision to be made on one of the last pillars of the Rangers former core group, Chris Kreider.
Kreider’s contract was expiring and negotiations, per many of the New York Rangers’ beats, were not progressing. His contract asks—whether it be the dollar amount or the term of 7 years—seemed to be a little too rich for the Rangers brass at the time. Rumors began and much of the Rangers community began hypothesizing trades and fair returns for the power forward. The day of the actual deadline, with a deal still not signed, saw Kreider missing from practice. This put speculation into hyperdrive, but just as this news was starting to register, the team announced that Kreider had signed a seven-year contract for $6.5 million a year and was missing from practice due to an illness.
Love it or hate it, this new contract put the team up even closer against the cap, but it seemed they were going to remain put for this deadline and commit to their current roster. In the eleventh hour, as people were starting to accept this was it, rumblings of discussion with the Carolina Hurricanes began. Right as 3 PM EST struck, the news started appearing from different sources. Brady Skjei had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brady Skjei was in the middle of another underwhelming season, and with the Rangers’ recent commitment to rebuilding, they had acquired a number of defensive prospects that made Skjei and his $5.25 million dollar cap hit expendable. With the return of a first-round pick on the table, it was a fairly easy decision to make. While I’m sure Skjei didn’t imagine his stay in New York City would be ending so soon after signing a six-year deal with the team, he’ll always have some fun moments of playing in the city that never sleeps, such as my personal favorite, his name appearing in a Saturday Night Live skit.
Where Are They Now?
Since traded to Carolina, Brady Skjei has had at first a pretty up and down experience adjusting to the Hurricanes’ defensive system. However, late into the 2020-21 season he began to get a bit more comfortable and started to exhibit a lot of the skills that had made him a first-round pick. Blending physicality and a better than average skating ability, Skjei was starting to find his home in the top 4 of the Carolina Hurricanes defense.
Brady Skjei with a big hit on Frank Vatrano late in the first period. pic.twitter.com/ezIf2IBtwD— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) April 8, 2021
In their trade with the Hurricanes, the Rangers received the worse of the two first round picks they owned in the 2020 draft. After Carolina was knocked out of the playoffs by Boston, the Rangers ended up with the 22nd overall pick.
Fast forward to October 6th, 2020, the day of the NHL draft, and with most of the hype surrounding the selection of Alexis Lafrenière 1st overall, the draft seemed to proceed quickly. As the Rangers’ second first round pick approached, it was announced they made a trade. The first trade of the draft that year, the Rangers moved up to pick number nineteen and sent Calgary their twenty-second and seventy-second overall.
The Rangers management team then came on camera and announced the selection of Braden Schneider, a large, smooth-skating, physical defenseman from the Brandon Wheat Kings. A bit comical to essentially swap out a defenseman named Brady Skjei for another named Braden Schneider, but this pick meant something to the Rangers. The video below shows John Davidson’s visceral reaction to get the opportunity to take Schneider, especially if the rumors were true and the young defenseman would have been selected by the Devils with the very next pick.
Schneider has broken into the NHL this year and has looked mighty comfortable skating and getting regular minutes every game. He’s made some mistakes, but that’s to be expected from a rookie defenseman as young as he is. He’s clearly began to earn the trust of Gallant and the rest of the coaching staff and it’s looking likely that he’ll carve out a respectable career for himself.
Of the Rangers picks that were sent off to move up and draft Schneider, one was kept by Calgary. They took Jérémie Poirier with the seventy-second pick. Poirier was signed by Calgary last September, but has played in the QMJHL this year and is having another productive season. In his draft year, he finished the year with the most goals for a defenseman in the QMJHL and just this month has become the highest scoring defenseman in St. John Sea Dogs history.
The Flames moved the first-round pick they got from the Rangers to the Capitals in a deal to get more draft picks. The Washington Capitals ended up selecting Hendrix Lapierre, who got a small taste of NHL hockey in the beginning of the season. In typical New York Rangers fashion, Hendrix Lapierre, who was taken with the Rangers’ former first round pick, scored a goal against New York in his first ever NHL game.
Was It All Worth It?
It’s far too early to determine whether the move at this deadline will be deemed successful or not. Resigning Kreider currently seems like the obvious and only right move as he’s scoring at a torrid pace but it will mostly be decided based on whether Schneider can surpass the positive impact Skjei would have had and whether the additional pick sacrificed to take him turns into a positive contributing player. However, regardless of all this, the Rangers needed to move on from Brady Skjei; they had foregone his bridge deal and signed him to more money than he was worth and probably would ever be worth. The team then went on to acquire multiple viable replacements via trades and the draft, and in the long run, this deal needed to happen to open up another spot on the back end and to free up cap space for the team from a position they had almost redundant resources in.