Over the past ten days, Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton has dealt with a number of significant changes in response to yet another missed opportunity in the playoffs.
June 14th – Rangers announce they will buy out the remaining four years of Dan Girardi‘s contract. The decision leaves Girardi with 788 regular season games for New York – 9th all time, and the active leader in that respect, to go with 122 playoff appearances, second only to Henrik Lundqvist all time. Girardi has said he wants to continue his career in the NHL.
June 21st – The Las Vegas Golden Knights select Oscar Lindberg in the expanson draft. Forced to leave Lindberg along with Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta and Michael Grabner exposed, the Rangers seemed moderately happy to have had the Swedish center as the one selected.
June 23rd – In a blockbuster deal, the Rangers deal center Derek Stepan and backup netminder Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for 21 year old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and a 1st round pick – seventh overall – in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Stepan was one of just 38 players to play in 500+ regular season games for the Rangers, and was fourth on the team behind Girardi, Lundqvist and Marc Staal. Raanta had been a good value backup to Lundqvist. He also had 97 playoff games, to be ranked 4th all tim for the team, behind the same three players. Raanta for his part, had been a great backup value for the Rangers, on a $1M contract and finished his career with the Blueshirts with a 27-14-4 record in 55 appearances, with a .921 save percentage and 2.25 GAA.
Today – barring additional trades, the Rangers will make their first first-round selection in the NHL Entry Draft since the 2012 draft, when they selected Brady Skjei with the 28th overall pick. The 7th overall pick they got from Arizona will also be the highest they’ve picked since 2004, when they selected Al Montoya with the sixth overall pick. That same year was also the last time they had two first round selections.