The 8 Best And 7 Worst Moves In New York Rangers History


The 8 Best And 7 Worst Moves In New York Rangers History




Good trades and bad trades: they are a part of every sport. It’s a way of life, really. Every team you follow has made some God awful trades where you just want to scream or cry. Every team you follow has fleeced a trade partner a time or two, where it appears at first to be lopsided against you, but then those no name prospects develop into future Hall of Famers, and all is right in the world. If it weren’t for bad trades, what would we all dissect on sports talk radio? But beyond that, just think of what is at stake. When teams make trades, there are a plethora of reasons behind the motivation to make a move. Perhaps the team is mired in a slump and looking to shake up the roster, hoping to break out. Perhaps they are so close to contending for a championship, but need to pay a steep price to get that so-called missing link, that player that might put them over the top.

Sometimes it’s all a matter of trading your headache away, and receiving the other team’s headache in return. And, sometimes a trade that looks bad to you when it was made, doesn’t look so bad after a few years. Or, sometimes a trade that looked like a steal to you last year, looks downright awful a year later. Why? Well, prospects for one. They don’t always pan out. How many times have you seen it where a team refuses to give up their top few prospects, and then those same prospects fizzle and turn into nothing? It’s just the way of the sports world.

Now, how about those kinds of deals for your New York Rangers? Yes, even your beloved Broadway Blueshirts are guilty of making some bad moves, but they’ve also benefited from several exceptional moves, too. For the purpose of this discussion, we are looking at the 8 best and 7 worst moves the Rangers have ever made. And, with free agency a huge deal now, we will, for the right move, include a really prudent-or really crippling-free agent move, too. So, are you ready to rank the moves?


You can question this one all you want, but Stephan Matteau landed here for one extremely clutch goal in the 1994 playoffs, a goal that enabled the Rangers to continue on in their quest to break their decades-long drought. He actually had two big goals in the Conference Finals, both game winners in the second overtime period. His most famous, of course, was the Game 7 2nd OT winner that put the Rangers over the Devils and into the Cup Finals. Now, if you wish to say he does not deserve to land in the “best” group because of the price the Rangers paid to acquire him (the Rangers sent Tony Amonte to Chicago), I would at least allow that into the debtate – because Amonte had the better overall career. However, I don’t think Rangers fans would necessarily want to trade Tony Amonte’s overall career, for the 1994 Stanley Cup.


Initially, everyone thought Sather, previously the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, would be like a kid in a candy store (in a good way) by coming to New York. See, in Edmonton, he was the master. Small market team, no payroll, he was able to trade away stars you would never want to trade away (like, Messier and Gretzky) and somehow still get a team on the ice that could contend for a Stanley Cup. So, the thinking was, that by getting Sather in New York, where he would not ever need to shed payroll could be match made in heaven. Except that it wasn’t. He wasn’t horrible, mind you. But with more limitless funds, he didn’t need to be as creative with signings, and just because you can buy all the cool guys doesn’t mean you should. I suppose it wasn’t all bad-he drafted well at times-but while most teams would love to enjoy the kind of success the Rangers had under Sather, his tenure as GM was not nearly what they’d hoped for.


On the one hand, it’s like, what are you, nuts? Trading away an eventual Hall of Famer? But that is a move that is en vogue in the NHL, especially following the lockouts. The idea is simple. Trade an impending free agent to an interested team, in return for whatever you can get. Sometimes the return is a meaningful player. Sometimes it’s a pick in an upcoming draft. This time around, the Rangers knew they needed to rebuild and reload, and that the aging veteran Messier wasn’t a good fit for that process. So they shipped him away ahead of the opening of the free agency period, and in return got a mid round draft pick. This one gets good because the Rangers used that pick to draft Ryan Callahan. I’d say that was a shrewd move.


Here’s the rub. Hagelin, a younger player, was traded for another young player plus a draft pick. So, in theory, it could have been a wash. Except it wasn’t. Hagelin was a speedy player who seemed to enjoy playing defense. And, oh yeah, in his rookie year, he was good enough to garner votes for Rookie of the Year. So, the Rangers inexplicably traded him away to Anaheim for a player who isn’t even worth mentioning, and a draft pick that hasn’t panned out yet and may never. As for Hagelin, he went from the Ducks to the Penguins, where he helped them win a Cup. So, he’s probably OK with how the trade went down.


Say what you want about how hyped Rick Nash was, and how he never was good enough to elevate one of his teams to the playoffs. Those would be fair criticisms of him, to a point. He’s no doubt one of those really skilled snipers who is not meant to be a centerpiece of a franchise. He can be really good sharing the leading role with some other upper echelon players, but don’t bank on him shouldering the entire load, all by himself, every night. So, as the Rangers aimed for a resurgence in the 2010s, they made the move to bring him to Broadway. While it did not result in another Stanley Cup, it was a gamble worth taking that certainly led to some exciting hockey.