In years past, the New York Rangers would approach both the trade deadline and free-agent signing period in the wrong fashion.
The team would both trade and sign aging players who used to be good and not only that, they would give them ridiculous contracts. Both former General Managers Neil Smith and Glen Sather are guilty of doing these things.
With General Manager Jeff Gorton now at the helm, things have been much different in a good way. For starters, Gorton has a vision for the future.
Gorton knows that the team needs to get younger, develop its own prospects, get faster, get more skilled, and anything and everything else that is needed to excel in today’s NHL. He has done this in a few ways.
He has gotten rid of aging players or guys on expiring contracts and in return has received a ton of draft picks for both this year and next year. These picks are going to be important as the Blueshirts need to start focusing on keeping the cupboard full and making sure they develop into NHLers.
Secondly, Gorton has been able to make hard decisions and do so with confidence. There is no doubt that getting rid of Mats Zuccarello was probably one of the toughest things that Gorton has done so far.
Zuccarello was the heart and soul of the Blueshirts. He hustled, he played great two-way hockey, he produced, was a leader both on and off the ice, and was someone who wore the Rangers’ logo on his chest. He was true blue through and through.
Nevertheless, Gorton handled it like a pro and got a good return for Zuccarello. As I mentioned earlier, stockpiling draft picks is exactly what the Rangers need to do in order to build for the future.
Getting rid of Kevin Hayes also had to have been a tough thing to do for Gorton. Hayes had been one of the team’s better players over the last few years and showed this season that he was developing into a consistent point producer.
Like the Zuccarello deal, Gorton did the right thing by moving Hayes. He got a younger player in return (Brendan Lemieux) and got more draft picks as well.
Lastly, it is clear that Gorton is following exactly what he and Sather outlined in their letter to the fans last season. They told the fans that they were heading into a new era and that they were going to rebuild this hockey team into one that could play and compete in today’s NHL.
Gorton is doing the right things, folks. In the end, this team should be on a path to being able to compete for a Cup, which is all that matters.