Written by: Eduardo Razo (@eddie91razo)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Somewhere in Glen Sather’s office you can smell the aroma of Cuban cigars as he and the New York Rangers’ brass celebrate three deals that let the rest of the league know they are all in for this year, while extending winger Mats Zuccarello to a new contract.
The Rangers busy day began with them and Zuccarello nearing an extension that was eventually confirmed to be a four-year contract extension worth $18 million, per Katie Strang of ESPN.com. This signing has to bring joy to Rangers fans because it appeared that Zuccarello was all but gone after this season, since it was reported that the two sides were far apart on a new deal as he was seeking $5 million a year, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
Also, just two days ago it was reported that the Rangers were actively shopping him, eager to trade him prior to the deadline. So with this new deal it looks like Zuccarello caved in on his demands and might even earn him extra brownie points with Rangers fans for taking less money as they try and get back to the Stanley Cup Final. With Zuccarello locked up, Glen Sather strengthened his defensive corp with a blockbuster deal that sent a lottery protected first-round draft pick in 2016, defenseman John Moore, a second-round draft pick in 2015, and top prospect Anthony Duclair to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Keith Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers, and a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.
The key piece in this deal is Keith Yandle, who will immediately provide the Rangers with a puck moving defenseman that can provide offense from the back end and can quarterback their power-play. With this move, the Rangers dealing continued as they were able to pluck James Sheppard from the San Jose Sharks and Carl Klingberg from the Winnipeg Jets. These two deals add depth for what the Rangers hope is a long Stanley Cup run and shows that they are all in for this season. They definitely gave up a lot in the sense of draft picks and a top prospect that can come back to hurt them in the future, but if the Rangers can win the cup, then it will all be worth it.
Although I like the Yandle deal, I kind of think they gave up too much because they already lacked early draft picks when they gave up two first round picks last season in the Martin St. Louis trade. This means the Rangers won’t draft in the first-round for the next two drafts and they even gave up the x-factor in this deal, Anthony Duclair. If you ask any Ranger fan, they cringed after they found out that Duclair was heading to Arizona, but he had to be part of the deal since the Coyotes retained some of Yandle’s salary. As someone who strongly believes in not mortgaging the future for the now, I cringe when any team gives up both draft picks and prospects in order to win now, but I can see where Sather and the Rangers are coming from. Since Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t have many years left playing at an elite level and they have arguably the best defensive corp in the NHL, the window for them to win a Stanley Cup is now.
From a Rangers perspective, this deal is a win now move, but for the Coyotes, its’ a deal that helps them since they garner draft picks and a prospect as they head into a rebuilding stage. With the Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette trades, General Manager Don Maloney is improving his chances in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, but it’s not just about McDavid for the Coyotes. With three draft picks in the first round, they have the opportunity to add some talent to help them down the road and help turn the franchise around. So Coyotes fans, pray to the hockey gods that they can win the lottery and trust that management can take advantage of these picks.
Now the question that some Coyotes fans might be asking is, “who is Anthony Duclair?” Well, he’s currently playing for the Québec Remparts of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he has 26 points (9 goals and 16 assist) in 20 games and helped Team Canada win gold at this past World Juniors where he showed flashes of potential and formed chemistry with Max Domi, who oddly enough is a Coyotes prospect. Duclair has the opportunity along with Domi to light it up in the desert, which should give Coyotes fans hope because being a fan of a team that’s also rebuilding, I would give anything to have Domi and Duclair as building blocks for the future. Be patient, Coyote fans and let them develop because if they pan out, you will have two gems.
This deal helps both teams because the Rangers are trying to push for a Stanley Cup while the Coyotes are trying to garner as much as they can in the form of prospects and draft picks for their assets. There won’t be a clear winner of this trade until after this season or next because if the Rangers win the cup this season or next, you can chalk it up as a win for the Rangers. If Anthony Duclair turns into one of the NHL’s better snipers and the Rangers fall short of a cup, then you can chalk it up as a win for the Coyotes. All in all, this is a good deal for both teams, so let’s just see how this deal unfolds over the next few years.