The New Jersey Devils had to overpay to get Michael Grabner, but still did pretty well in the trade
As the NHL trade deadline approaches, sellers try to get high prices and buyers try to get guys at the lowest price they can. The negotiation process is fascinating and it’s always fun to see which side gets what they want. On Thursday, Feb. 22, the New Jersey Devils traded a second-round pick and Yegor Rykov to the New York Rangers for Michael Grabner.
Let’s take a look at this trade from both sides and grade how everyone did.
New Jersey Devils
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The New Jersey Devils needed to add some depth scoring. They got a guy with 26 goals and 31 points in Grabner. On paper, his numbers look great. However, some context is required. Seven of his goals have come with no one guarding the net, as they were empty net goals.
On one hand, this does affect his goal total. Still, 19 goals aren’t too shabby. And all but one of those 19 have come at even strength. But on the other hand, this says the Rangers trusted Grabner a lot in the closing minutes of games.
He can help the Devils put games on ice in the closing minutes. New Jersey has just three goals combined between six-on-five and six-on-four situations. Grabner’s going to give them a boost there. It might sound like a rather meaningless boost, but hockey is all about gaining every advantage you can and exploiting it.
The price is a bit much, considering Grabner’s likely a third-line forward for the Devils. Let’s assume this second-round pick the Devils gave up is somewhere around the 51 to 55 range. TSN’s Scott Cullen has done research on draft picks. He believes a pick in this range has a 32.5 percent chance of playing in over 100 games.
What makes it an overpayment is giving up Rykov. The Devils don’t have many good blueline prospects. He was one of them.
Grade: B. Grabner makes sense for the Devils. I don’t like giving up Rykov, but considering the outrageous prices this time of year, it’s better than expected. That said, it’s hard to believe Grabner’s going to be a significant difference maker for the Devils.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are sellers. That’s really weird to see and they don’t have much experience doing so. But so far, Rangers fans should be happy. General manager Jeff Gorton got a very nice return for Grabner, who was scheduled to become a free agent. The return gets even better if the Rangers bring him back in the offseason.
A second-round pick by itself is a decent return for Grabner. The Rangers now have multiple picks in the second and third rounds. Factor in the likely first-round pick they’ll get for Rick Nash and they’ll have two picks in each of the first three rounds. Heck of a way to add talent to a barren prospect system.
The most curious part of the return is Rykov. There’s an interesting tie between the Rangers and the defenseman. Rykov plays for SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL with New York’s elite goaltending prospect Igor Shestyorkin. It’s safe to say the Rangers have likely seen a fair bit of the defenseman.
Grade: A. This isn’t an A+ because of hindsight. The Derek Stepan trade shows the Rangers clearly weren’t contending. So why not at least shop Grabner and try to maximize a return for him? It’s hard to think teams wouldn’t be curious about adding a guy who has 27 goals and can play shorthanded. That said, this return would have been a fine one last offseason, so overall, great job by the Rangers.