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Hartnett: Anxious Times For Rangers Fans As Trade Deadline Looms

Put Trust In Gorton For More Trades

Sean Hartnett
February 20, 2019 - 2:05 pm

As the Feb. 25 trade deadline draws ever closer, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is doing exactly what should be done to aid his club’s rebuild.

Starting with Cody McLeod, Marek Mazanec and Peter Holland, the 50-year-old executive has begun turning veterans into picks and prospects. The Rangers received a pair of 2020 seventh-round picks for McLeod, a 34-year-old enforcer whose usefulness has dropped precipitously in recent years and Mazanec, a depth goaltender.

Holland, a 28-year-old center, was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday for 22-year-old defenseman Darren Raddysh. Holland, McLeod and Mazanec are all in the final year of their deals. That’s two AHL-NHL tweeners in Holland and Mazanec – and an aging pugilist in McLeod for two picks and Raddysh, a young defenseman who was a top-five scorer for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Not bad... not bad at all.

Who knows how the pair of seventh-round picks turn out. Perhaps, the Rangers deal these picks away to slide up in a future draft or package these picks in another deal. Should Gorton keep hold of the pair of seventh-rounders to select prospects in 2020, there’s a chance these players turn into something of NHL quality.

In the year 2000, the Rangers unearthed a franchise-altering steal by drafting Henrik Lundqvist 205th overall in the seventh round. Fellow member of the 2014 Eastern Conference championship roster, Carl Hagelin was taken 168th overall in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. More recently, industrious wing Jesper Fast was selected at 157th overall in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.

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These draft years have proven that there’s plenty of talent to be found in the late rounds. The more picks and prospects owned by a rebuilding team, the more chances of striking gold.

The latest Ranger veteran to be linked to a contending team is 32-year-old blue liner Adam McQuaid. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has suggested that the Toronto Maple Leafs could be looking for some depth on the back end and McQuaid is on their radar. If the Rangers can convince Toronto or another playoff-bound franchise to surrender a fourth-round pick or a decent prospect for a McQuaid rental, that would be a big win for the Blueshirts.

With all the talk of what the Rangers could fetch for Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, it’s easy to forget that an unforeseen deal could appear from nowhere. Even the most well-connected insiders sometimes learn of sudden trades moments before a pair of GMs strike a deal that shocks the hockey world.

From now through next Monday, it’s going to be anxious times for Rangers fans. All they can do is put their trust in Gorton and hope that he can pull off a masterstroke or two.

Follow Sean on Twitter -- @HartnettHockey