The New York Rangers were the first team to make a splash on trade deadline day. They shipped their captain Ryan Callahan and two picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their captain Martin St. Louis. This was the headline deal that everyone will be talking about, but the Rangers made one other move — they acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Vancouver Canucks for a fifth round pick.
Let’s start with the St. Louis deal. No one was a bigger Callahan fan than me. He was a player that embodied everything about New York; he was gritty, tough and brought an attitude to the team. If you consider yourself a fan of the Rangers, you should be sad to see Callahan go, even if his contract demands were a little much. If you aren’t sad, go root for the joke of a team on the Island.
Now, this trade is a really near-sighted move for the Rangers. General manager Glen Sather even admitted that this deal was made to make the club better today. The draft picks aren’t that big of a loss for a couple of reasons. First off, this year’s draft is not very good, so not having a first or second round pick is no big deal. Secondly, the Rangers are going to have a late pick in the draft, so even in next year’s deeper draft, they will not regret getting rid of the pick.
St. Louis is going to help this club right now, as he gives them a bona fide playmaker. For people who question the trade because of St. Louis’ age, let’s remember he led the NHL in points last year; he is also 10th in the league in points this season. He obviously is already the leading scorer on the Rangers. St. Louis can still play and he can play at high level.
This trade will help some of the other scorers on the team, Rick Nash and Brad Richards specifically. Teams will have to decided which line they want to play their top pair defense against from now on. Richards already looks rejuvenated after being reunited with his former teammate and close friend. St. Louis’ great vision and playmaking skills will help a lot on the power play as well.
Now for the Diaz trade. The Rangers have been lacking defense depth the entire year. The top four is rock solid and Kevin Klein has even shown the ability to be a very solid third pair defenseman. John Moore has struggled and Alain Vigneault clearly does not trust Justin Falk.
Diaz is a puck moving defenseman. He is never going to light it up offensively, but he does an admirable job of starting the rush. Vigneault’s style of play is all about quick puck movement and transition. He is also an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and was acquired for a reasonable price. Everyone says that defense depth is one of the biggest keys to a deep run in the playoffs.
The one area the Rangers did not address is their size up from. They are now a small team. They sport two of the smallest players in the NHL in Mats Zuccarello and St. Louis. These players are both tough as nails, but they are not guys who can bang. When playing the Boston Bruins, the Rangers always get handled and they lost a player in Callahan, who was always willing to throw his body around.
Overall, the Rangers had a very solid trade deadline, and St. Louis will be a major contributor. Diaz will be a move that gets overlooked, but gives them good depth.
I would give them a ‘B’ as their grade.