For the first time in modern NHL history, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils made a trade Thursday night. The Rangers traded Michael Grabner for a 2018 second round pick and defenseman Igor Rykov. Grabner was scratched from the Rangers 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The move comes as no surprise to hockey insiders as it was rumored that Grabner would be among the names moved from New York either at the deadline or leading up to it. After a letter from Rangers' management to their season ticket holders was sent out detailing the Rangers' plans to get younger, it definitely comes as no surprise.
Grabner to the Devils for a 2nd and Rykov is complete.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 23, 2018
Grabner is a rental for the Devils as he will become an unrestricted free agent after the current season is over, so they'll get him for about 20 games or so, then the playoffs. Rykov is a prospect who hasn't logged a minute of NHL ice time but is projected to be a very solid two-way defenseman that should be within the Rangers' top six in the next few years.
Grabner's year with New York
Grabner leaves a struggling Rangers' team behind that has made it publicly known that they are in a rebuilding mode. They are 27-30-5 on the year and are looking to unload as much talent and contracts as they can.
Thank you to the @NYRangers and their fans for a fun 2 years..I enjoyed had a blast,met awesome people and made some great memories for life..now a new chapter starts with the @NJDevils I am excited to join them for the late season push and see what we accomplish rest of the way!— Michael Grabner (@grabs40) February 23, 2018
Grabner was New York's leading goal scorer on the year with 25 goals at the time of the trade, and according to ESPN, there have only been three players within the last 40 years who have had a season with 25 or more goals and single-digit assists.
Grabner was a fan favorite by many in New York and will be greatly missed by many Rangers' fans.
Who is Igor Rykov?
Igor or Yegor or the Cyrillic alphabet translation of Erop (pick whichever one floats your boat) is a 20-year-old Russian defenseman currently playing for SKA Saint Petersburgh who are the top KHL team. We'll call him Igor for now, but since he has never been to the states he could either spell his name Igor or Yegor.
Anyway, Rykov's stats won't blow you away, he has 14 points (2 G, 12 A) in 51 games and a +13 rating, and neither will his being drafted in the fifth round. But, that should deter Rangers' fan from thinking that he isn't good.
Behind the NHL, the KHL is the most highly competitive league with many former NHL'ers going to play there. Rykov is considered a very good two-way defender that could potentially slot into someone's starting lineup soon. He stands at 6'2" and weighs in at 216lbs. He has a wicked hard shot and isn't afraid to throw his weight around.
Rykov is playing against some very hard competition so Rangers' fans should be excited about his future.
What this does for Monday's trade deadline
With Grabner leaving New York, this is just the beginning for the Rangers' organization. With Rick Nash being held out of games and most likely not putting on a Rangers' jersey again for the rest of the year, this only begins the Rangers blow up of their roster.
The Rangers made it publicly known what they want to do and they have begun that.
This trade should also begin to craft the market for what guys like Nash and Evander Kane should get from their prospective teams in trades. We all know that Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill's asking price for Kane is a first-rounder, prospects, and established players and the asking price should be about the same for Nash.
With Grabner getting a second-rounder and a prospect in return, it shows that teams are willing to give up pieces for rentals. Now, the Rangers and the Sabres and others just have to capitalize on it.
There will be a lot of cautious buyers at Monday's trade deadline and the market may be small for sellers, but it should be a fun one with at least a few blockbusters going down.
What do you think of the Grabner trade? Who do you think won the trade? Tell me in the comments below.
Also, make sure you tune in to Vavel's NHL homepage as we will have wall to wall coverage of the trade deadline with live updates with rumors, trades, articles, tweets, and my live reactions as things go down. So make sure you stop by this Monday!