Costs were exorbitant.And now, the question each of the National Hockey League’s 30 franchises must ask themselves is if they have improved in the short term or long term?
In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline, the overriding view is that many playoff contenders paid steep prices to the league’s weaker franchises in order to strengthen for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s a calculated risk,” Rangers General Manager Glen Sather told reporters at the Garden Monday afternoon. “I think it’s well worth it.It was nice to get [to the Stanley Cup Final last June]. I hope we can do that again [but]A lot of teams are going to think [they can reach the Stanley Cup Final].”
Among the pre-eminent buyers, the Rangers stood pat Monday after Sather overhauled the reigning Eastern Conference Champions Sunday by trading for defenseman Keith Yandle, right wing Carl Klingberg and center James Sheppard in three deals with Arizona, Winnipeg and San Jose.
The market prices for those additions were significant. Sather parted with prospect forward Anthony Duclair, defenseman John Moore, a 2015 second round draft pick and a conditional 2016 first round pick to acquire Yandle. Bottom-six forward Lee Stempniak was shipped to Winnipeg for Klingberg, while San Jose received a 2016 fourth round pick for Sheppard.
Sheppard, whom Alain Vigneault told reporters wasn’t available due to travel, has won 50 percent of the faceoffs he took this season. He and Dominic Moore could strengthen an area that has been weakness. The Rangers are the league’s second-worst faceoff team, winning an average of 46.7 percent of draws this season.
Yandle, 28, recorded 41 points [four goals and 37 assists] in 63 games. Twenty six of Yandle’s 41 points came on the power play. The Rangers have the NHL’s 11th ranked power play, with an 18.8 percent success rate. Vigneault told reporters Monday afternoon that he initially views Yandle partnering with Kevin Klein, Dan Boyle and Marc Staal.
“I’ve been shopping for [Yandle] for quite a while,” Sather said.According to an ESPN.com report, Arizona will retain half of Yandle’s salary. Yandle will earn $5.5 million this season and $5.75 million in 2015-16.
“The financial arrangement we have with Arizona makes it a perfect fit for us.”
The savings allowed Sather to lock up Mats Zuccarello to a four-year, $18 million deal. Sather acknowledged that the sides had agreed to terms Sunday, one day after ESPN.com and the New York Post reported that Sather told Zuccarello that the executive was going to make the left wing available to be traded.
“I put it on the market that we were going to trade him,” Sather said of Zuccarello. “Whether or not that would have ever happened is another story.“I like everything about him; his tenacity, his hard work, his seeing the ice, the chemistry he brings. He’s been terrific.”
The additions and signing appear to round out a roster that had earned 82 points prior to Monday night’s game against league-best Nashville. The Rangers are second in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Islanders by two points. They trail Eastern Conference-leading Montreal by five points, and are seven points behind the Predators.
As such, the organization views the outlay in a positive light.
“I think it’s a real strong vote of confidence to our players that we feel we’ve got a team that can compete for the Cup,” Vigneault said.
Still, the Rangers aren’t the only New York team that thinks it is a Cup contender.
The Islanders added San Jose depth forward Tyler Kennedy, Vancouver forward Dustin Jeffrey, Arizona defenseman Mark Louis and Buffalo goaltender Michal Neuvirth on Monday, without losing anything of significance from the NHL roster. GM Garth Snow parted with backup goaltender Chad Johnson to land Neuvirth.
The Devils dealt defenseman Marek Zidlicky to Detroit for a conditional third round pick. The Zidlicky trade was Devils President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello’s second in a week, as he sent Jaromir Jagr to Florida for a 2015 second round pick and a 2016 third round pick.
“I don’t know what more [Zidlicky] could have given us. He was a warrior. He brings intensity each and every night,” Lamoriello told reporters in a conference call before delving into the importance of accumulating draft picks.“[The draft picks are] going to give the ability to add to the forward situation that we’re going to look into.”