Almost 20 years ago, the New York Rangers made several trades that mortgaged their future in return for NHL veterans to make a deep playoff run. Amongst the youth traded away were Tony Amonte, Mike Gartner and Todd Marchant. Each of those players went on to play over 1100 NHL games in their illustrious careers and were some household names for the teams that acquired them, yet the Rangers won the ultimate prize of the Stanley Cup. Bringing in players such as Brian Noonan, Glenn Anderson, Craig MacTavish and, of course, Stephane Matteau gave the team a much more veteran look that ultimately led to the Rangers defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7. While that cup victory has lasted a lifetime for Rangers fans, it has been 20 long years since New York has hoisted Lord Stanley’s ultimate prize. With today’s acquisition of Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers are going back to that same mold.
I will grant you this; the Rangers did not move such famed names as Amonte and Gartner this season, and Ryan Callahan will never be in the same tier as those two. The most similar comparison would be Marchant, though Callahan has almost reached Marchant’s career offensive output with plenty of gas left in the tank. The fact remains, however, that the Rangers moved homegrown assets for established NHL veterans. The Rangers also sent over a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 entry draft that could turn into a first as well as their first-round draft pick in 2015. The future is important and draft picks are the way that teams build their rosters from the ground up. The Rangers have never been known for that, being known for first-round busts such as Jamie Lundmark, Hugh Jessiman and Manny Malhotra to some respect. Though in recent years draft picks have had more impact with the club, this remains a team built through trades and free agency.
This trade signifies that New York is serious about making a playoff push. St. Louis turns 39 in July so you can be sure that he won’t be around forever, though players of his caliber such as Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne play into their early forties. They don’t only want to make the playoffs; they want a cup. The Rangers are trying to win that cup the only way they know how. Alongside St. Louis will be former and now current teammate Brad Richards. The two won a Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay, and St. Louis fits right in where Callahan’s spot alongside Richards was.
The price of acquisition for St. Louis should not be scoffed at. Potentially two first-round picks and an important roster player is a lot to give up for one player who is already 38 years old. First-round picks make an impact on the NHL team more often than not. Trading such valuable assets away in return for such short-sighted help will only be worth the cost if the Rangers win the Stanley Cup. If they fail to win a cup with St. Louis as a Ranger, then the team set themselves back like they have so many times in their history. Let us hope that the 1993-94 cup victory doesn’t in fact last fans an entire lifetime.