NEW YORK, NY – The NHL trade deadline came and went on Monday and the New York Hockey Rangers traded the players everyone expected them to trade. We knew trades were imminent when Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello were healthy scratches for Saturday’s matinee against the Devils at the garden. Later that evening we learned that Zuc had been shipped off to the Dallas Stars (formerly Angry Ward’s/Brian Bellows’ Minnesota North Stars). In return the Rangers got a bucket of practice pucks and some spare Zamboni parts. It wasn’t quite the haul one would have liked and the Stars aren’t exactly in a position to make a deep playoff push. Hell, New York may still finish the season with more points than Dallas, which is good in any sport.
The usually stoic Henrik Lundqvist was visibly emotional after learning Zuc was traded. I haven’t seen that much emotion from Hank since the Rangers lost to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. In Zuccarello’s first game for the Stars he broke his arm and will miss four weeks. Strange game, this hockey. There’s a good chance the Rangers re-sign Zuccarello this summer.
Kevin Hayes’ return to Broadway is a lot less likely. Hayes was traded to the Winnipeg Jets before Monday’s deadline for Brendan Lemieux and a first round draft pick. It was a decent haul for Hayes, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will fetch somewhere in the neighborhood $5.5-6 million per year for five years on the open market. I’d love for the Rangers to re-sign Hayes, but I’m not sure the Rangers will offer him the years and money he’ll be looking for.
Brendan Lemieux is the son of Claude Lemieux, who tormented the Rangers in the 80’s and 90’s with the Habs and Devils. The younger Lemieux probably won’t enjoy as much success. He’s a decent 3rd- or 4th-liner but he’s not going to set the league alight any time soon. He’ll be a good player for the rebuilding Blueshirts but will probably be shown the door once the B-way Blues become relevant in the playoff picture again. The Rangers have a bunch of players who fit that mold – guys like Anthony DeAngelo and Boo Nieves (Top 5 NHL Name?) are good for the current iteration of the Rangers, but they will not be around once the team is in contention. I will say that the current Rangers are a lot of fun to watch. They play a wide-open style of hockey that leads them to score a lot of goals… and leads them to concede just as many. They lost 4-3 to the Lightning (Rangers parent club) in overtime Wednesday night and lost 6-5 to the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon.
Lord Stanley’s Cup Chase:
This year’s playoff picture is taking shape and the Tampa Bay
Ex-Rangers Lightning are odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Bolts are already over 100 points with 18 games to go and are a win away from 50 for the season. The perennial playoff powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins are currently on the outside looking in. They’re even on points with the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently occupy the final Wild Card slot in the Eastern Conference. We’ve got five weeks to go in the regular season.
PREDICTION: I think the Penguins will make the playoffs but I’m wrong most of the time, so who knows? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. How do you keep an idiot in suspense? I’ll tell you tomorrow… Speaking of which, come back tomorrow for a man that thought Niagara Falls had something to do with an erectile dysfunction drug, Junoir Blaber.