Does the New York Rangers’ general manager deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to any move he makes?
The New York Rangers had been grooming Jeff Gorton to take the reigns once they hired him from the Boston Bruins. It was his tenure there that showed he had what it takes to build a Stanley Cup roster, with Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and others joining the organization during his time there. Now, since The Letter, he’s been tasked with doing the same thing with the Rangers. There are some fans that criticize some of his moves, but is that warranted? Or, has Gorton earned our blind faith? Let’s analyze some of the major moves.
The Mika Zibanejad trade – The Mika Zibanejad trade–Derick Brassard and the Rangers’ seventh-round pick for Mika Zibanejad AND the Ottawa Senators’ second-round pick–is a master-class on how to sell high while planning for the future. This trade is almost as good for the Rangers as the Scott Gomez-for-Ryan McDonagh trade was. Zibanejad is an undisputed number-one center in the league. Brassard scored 39 points for Ottawa, then was unceremoniously shipped off. A big win for Gorton.
Signing Artemi Panarin- Artemi Panarin is all that he was advertised to be–and more. The fact that Gorton got Panarin to sign for less than other teams offered is knowing exactly how to play your cards. What more can be written about Panarin that hasn’t been said about him already? He’s a superstar, and the Rangers got him to play on Broadway throughout his prime.
The Jacob Trouba trade– This is a little bit nuanced. The trade itself–Neal Pionk, an undrafted offensive defenseman with major defensive liabilities, and a late first-round draft pick for a burgeoning number one defenseman in Jacob Trouba–is a home run. It’s a great example of strong asset management with selling Pionk at his peak, and taking advantage of your team’s cap space and another team’s cap restrictions.
The Ryan Strome trade– You want to talk about winning the lotto? Gorton took a flyer on swapping one struggling Ryan–Ryan Spooner–for another Ryan–Ryan Strome. Spooner is out of the NHL, while Strome put up a career year as Panarin’s pivot. Impressive. Lucky? Maybe, but absolutely impressive.
The Rick Nash trade– The Rangers traded Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for Ryan Spooner, Ryan Lindgren, Matt Beleskey, and a first-round and seventh-round pick. Lindgren has developed into a hard-nosed defensive defenseman, and may be partnered with Adam Fox for the next decade on Broadway. The Rangers packaged the first-round pick–along with the second-round pick they acquired from the New Jersey Devils in the Michael Grabner trade–and sent it to Ottawa for the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Rangers chose K’Andre Miller.
But, Gorton’s tenure with the Rangers doesn’t include all hits.