Yesterday was a pretty big day in the course of the Rangers franchise. The repercussions of the activity yesterday will be felt as early as next year, but will reverberate through the team for the next half decade.
It started in the early afternoon when longtime Ranger and de facto 1st line center Derek Stepan was traded to Arizone, together with popular backup goaltender Annti Raanta, for the 7th overall pick and 2014 first round selection (14th overall), Anthony DeAngelo.
The move was largely cashing out on Derek Stepan’s large and long contract (6.5×4 remaining) before his full no trade clause kicked in on July 1. When he signed it, he appeared to be on a trajectory that would be well worth the dollars. However, in the two years that followed, he stayed relatively flat. Last year he even seemed to regress a bit. So the time was right to move him, as I and many others had advocated from even before the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs. Losing Raanta will prove unpopular if Lundqvist struggles again this season, but I expect us to have a solid backup in place before the season begins, either by free agency or trade.
DeAngelo is a talented but temperamental 21 year old, right handed defenseman, known for his offensive skills, particularly his ability to quarterback a powerplay. Respected statistician Tyler Dellow (@dellowhockey) noted that in the small sample that was available, Arizona’s powerplay was markedly better with DeAngelo on it. However, given his attitude problems, his defensive play, and the manner in which AV deployed the relatively more defensively responsible Brady Skjei, my gut feeling is we do not see many DeAngelo suit up for many NHL games.
To me, determining the outcome of the trade depended on two things: 1) what we do with the 7th overall pick; and 2) what we do with the cap space. Last night, we found out what they would do with the pick. At 7th overall, the Rangers took what is considered by all draft media outlets as a reach in center Lias Anderson from HV71 in Sweden. The highest I saw Anderson ranked was 11 by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek. The lowest I saw him ranked was 25 by ISS. Most ranking had him somewhere around 15. Meanwhile, Gabe Vilardi, who was ranked by most draft services between 3-5, with the only outlier being The Draft Analyst that had him at 11.
Reading the projections on Anderson, boy, he sure sounds like a Manny Malhotra esque pick, coincidentally also in the 7th spot overall. Good two way center, not particularly good offensively. His style of play sounds like a blend between Malhotra and Lauri Korpikoski. It just seems like if they were really keen on him, they could have traded down. Anderson, for his part, has signed a two year extension with HV71 and is planning on reporting there for at least next season.
The first part of the trade seems like it was likely a mistake (not quite McIlrath bad since this guy still projects to be a NHL player), so now we have to wait and see what the Rangers do with the cap flexibility. They will need to resign Zibanejad and Fast, while adding at least one more defenseman (possibly two), two bottom six forwards (at least one of which needs to be a center), and a backup goaltender.
The Rangers also selected Filip Chytil with the 21st pick. Most outlets had him as a late first/early second rounder. This pick doesn’t bother me as much, but I sure would have preferred Eli Tolvinen, who is a dynamic scorer. I also would have preferred Klim Kostin, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ryan Poehling.
Barring any trades, Rangers don’t pick again until the fourth round. Last year, my depth pick was Sean Day, who we grabbed in the third. This year, it’s Dylan Samberg, but I think he probably gets taken in the second given the recent rise in his draft stock. I honestly like a lot of guys still on the board, which is why I’m disappointed that they didn’t trade down from 7 if they were intent on Anderson.