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Rangers Didn’t Mortgage Future to “Win Now”

Rangers

Earlier today the New York Rangers traded Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a 2016 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth-round pick.

That’s a lot of assets changing hands, and social media immediately erupted in response to the blockbuster trade. This is a strong move for a Coyotes team that is rebuilding on the fly and trying to get younger. Duclair was arguably New York’s top offensive prospect, and the two draft picks will allow Arizona to stockpile even more budding talent.

Don’t overlook Moore as a part of this trade either. The pending RFA was an integral part of the Rangers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final last season and will bring experience to the Coyotes locker room.

Most pundits gave Arizona GM Don Maloney a passing grade for this trade, while they rushed to bask Rangers General Manager Glen Sather for mortgaging the future(!!!).

The phrase “win now”(!!!) has been tossed around ad nauseam as well.

And so on. It’s easy to see how the Twitter-verse got to thinking that the Rangers are in win-now mode and sacrificed their future to get there. After making it to the Final last year, there’s certainly some incentive to take another shot before the Stanley Cup window closes.

Sather didn’t sell the farm for an aging forward in this instance though. He added an elite offensive defenseman in Yandle, loading up New York’s blue line and giving his team the best defensive core in the Eastern Conference. Maybe in the entire NHL.

The Rangers already had Dan “not a part of the Yandle trade” Girardi, Dan Boyle, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal in place. Now head coach Alain Vigneault can roll out defensive pairings that should terrify all playoff bound teams.

Ryan McDonagh Dan Girardi
Keith Yandle Marc Staal
Kevin Klein Dan Boyle

As Coyotes fans were all too happy to point out following the trade, Yandle is a bit of a turnover machine. That perception isn’t quite fair though, since he’s typically the player that is leading the rush out of the defensive zone. Defensemen that carry the puck more often than not are naturally going to have higher turnover numbers than their off the boards and out counterparts.

Of these six defensemen, only Dan Boyle is older than 30. Yandle is 28, while McDonagh is 25 and Staal is 28. It certainly doesn’t look like the Rangers are going to be in trouble on the blue line any time soon.

What about the forwards though? Duclair is a dynamic player that will likely be in the NHL next season. The Coyotes have every reason to be thrilled to land this player, but offensive defensemen in their prime don’t come cheap.

Much has been made of the fact that the Rangers haven’t had a first-round pick since 2012 and won’t have another one (barring trade) until 2017.

The easy conclusion to make here is that New York is all in over the next two seasons or so, and then will enter a dark age for a decade as it tries to overcome the lack of prospects. That’s just not the way this is going to shake down because the Rangers’ most important forwards are still in their prime and will be over the next three seasons.

Martin St. Louis is getting up there and is 39, but look at the ages for the rest of the team’s top-six:

  • Derick Brassard – 27
  • Rick Nash – 30
  • Mats Zuccarello – 27
  • Chris Kreider – 23
  • Derek Stepan – 24

That doesn’t look like a group that is going to run into issuess with age before the Rangers start making first-round picks again. Don’t forget about 23-year-old Jesper Fast, 26-year-old Carl Hagelin or 22-year-old Kevin Hayes either. The Blueshirts aren’t young like a rebuilding Buffalo Sabres team, but the idea that they’ve mortgaged anything in the name of a Stanley Cup banner is overblown and shortsighted.

There’s no question that Sather put his team in a better position to win in 2015 by acquiring Yandle, and he had to move futures to do so. That doesn’t mean this organization is going to enter the dark ages by 2020 though. They still have a handful of potential top-six forwards coming down the pipe.

Some prospect enthusiasts believe that it was Pavel Buchnevich’s development in the KHL that made the Rangers comfortable with trading Duclair away in the first place.

Danny Kristo is heading towards his second straight 40-plus point in the AHL and is scoring goals at a notable rate. He lit the lamp 25 times in 65 contests in his first year as a pro last season and is coming along nicely for the Hartford Wolf Pack. Oscar Lindberg and Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves are also solid prospects that are still in the system.

The Rangers got an asset they wanted in Yandle, and they traded away an outstanding prospect and picks to land him. Don’t buy into this talk of mortgaging and win-now stuff though. New York can win now, but they’ll be just fine without a few first-round picks. The core of this team is still young and will be effective enough to keep the Rangers competitive for years to come.

And hey, sometimes second-round picks pan out too.

Rangers

2008 second-round pick Derek Stepan, for your consideration.

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