There were no miracle blockbusters for the New York Rangers at yesterday’s trade deadline. And there were no magic elixirs, either.
There were just a couple of solid trades designed to make the Blueshirts a better team, and ones that allow the club a chance compete in the playoffs.
“What we were really trying to do was get some scoring, size, grit and and speed,” said Ranger general manager Glen Sather. “I think we did that. We’ll see how the cards play out in the future. (Coach John Tortorella) likes them. He thinks we’ve helped our team immensely.”
Two separate deals right before the deadline brought the Rangers big right wing Nik Antropov from the Maple Leafs for a conditional second round draft pick, and rugged defenseman Derek Morris from the Coyotes for Dimitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.
Both deals were made to sure up the team’s deficiencies, with Antropov becoming the finisher the Rangers sought all season, while Morris becomes that power play quarterback, a role Wade Redden just seemed to forget how to play.
“Antropov is a big winger, centerman,” Sather said. “He’ll help us in the goal scoring department. Morris is a good, solid defenseman, he’ll give us a little more bite in the back end. He can play a little bit of everything, offense, defense.’
Just by the virtue of making the trade, Antropov becomes the Rangers leading scorer with 21 goals and 25 assists this season for a terrible Toronto team, while Morris has struggled with the numbers this season with just 5 goals and 7 assists, but has averaged between 25 and 30 points a season in the past.
Couple their arrivals with coach John Tortorella’s hiring and Sean Avery’s much awaited return, the Rangers have gained a lot in personality over the past week. And now have the personnel that can help the Rangers on the power play, which ranks 29th in the league
“Antropov is certainly a guy with a lot of power play time,” Sather said. “He’s a goal scorer, a big body. Morris is a smart player with a history of playing on the power play.”
The price for all of these moves looks high on paper. The conditional second round pick could hurt the team in the future, but losing Kalinin, Dawes, and Prucha doesn’t sting as much because they all became expendable after the deals were made.
Although he does have a scoring touch, Dawes seemed a little undersized for the NHL. Good on the third line, the 24 year-old struggled when he moved up in the lineup. And Prucha may have needed a change in scenery, since he was buried by former coach Tom Renney the last two seasons, after scoring 52 goals his first two years.
“Since we’ve gotten Avery here, we did have a surplus of forwards,” Sather said. “And adding Antropov takes another position. It makes sense to put those two forwards in the deal and give them the opportunity to play.
“I like Prucha. If you look at Antropov coming in here, we needed to get some size in front of the net on the power play and he’s going to solve that for us. We wanted to give Petr the opportunity to play.”
Kalinin is a unrestricted free agent this summer and probably wouldn’t have been re-signed because of his disappointing first season as a Ranger.
Antropov and Morris also can walk away over the summer, which is why these deals are somewhat risky for the Rangers.
But even if they do move on, the trades also allows Sather some cap space on the club, which is another reason why yesterday a such a sold day for the club.