The New York Rangers were one of the more active teams at the NHL trade deadline, making a number of moves to bolster their team. The Rangers came close to winning the Stanley Cup last year, but were ultimately defeated in five games by the Los Angeles Kings. After a slow start to the season, they have come on strong and should be the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. Thanks to a couple of trades the team made at the deadline, the Rangers look like one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
The biggest move the Rangers made was to bring in defenseman Keith Yandle from the Arizona Coyotes. If there was one thing that the Rangers needed to add it was a solid offensive minded defenseman. Yandle is second among defensemen in assists with 37 and is tied for the lead in power play assists with 24. Yandle is a big pickup due to the fact that he is not a rental. The Rangers will have control over him for the next two and a half years. They extended a couple of players this season in Mats Zuccarello and Marc Staal so they have a good group of players signed for a while.
One somewhat surprising move the Rangers made was to trade away right wing Lee Stempniak to the Winnipeg Jets. Stempniak was a good producer at the beginning of the season but began to cool off and he became expendable with the recent play of Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. In return for Stempniak, the Rangers got a minor leaguer in Carl Klingberg. Stempniak is a free agent after this season and is onto his seventh team in his career. The move is unusual because you don’t often see teams who are competing for a top playoff spot shed someone from their active roster for a minor leaguer.
A good move that may get overlooked is the acquisition of James Sheppard from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth round draft pick. Sheppard is a young center who can also play left wing, but one thing that he can do is win faceoffs. He has taken over 500 faceoffs while with the Sharks this season and has won half of them. The deeper you get in the playoffs, the deeper the teams get and the more crucial winning faceoffs will become. The Rangers have a very deep team and would be a very tough matchup no matter who they face in the playoffs.
The Rangers will be getting another addition in the next week or so in the return of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers haven’t had a full team this season as they have been dealing with some injuries and the mumps virus, but once they get everyone healthy they will be one of the scariest teams in the league. Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league and when combined with full team, they should be able to succeed where last year’s team failed.
What these deals have done is effectively put a window on their championship run. The Rangers gave up a lot to get Yandle. They gave up a young forward in Anthony Duclair a second round pick and a conditional first round pick. Duclair is seen as one of the better young forwards in the game and one can’t help but wonder if the price was a little high for a player in Yandle, even though he is under control for another two seasons. Duclair is 19 and scored 50 goals in 55 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. By the time Yandle’s contract is up a lot of the core players will be in the mid to late 30s. This will give the Rangers the next two and a half years to make the most of this since they have been sending some draft picks and one of their best prospects.
The New York Rangers should be one of the best teams in the NHL given the moves they made over the past couple of days. New York will a force to be reckoned with over the next month and a half as they are tied for second in the conference. New York has played two fewer games than their divisional rival New York Islanders who they are tied with. These additions will make the Rangers one of the most complete and teams in the NHL and that should worry the rest of the league.