SUNRISE, Fla. – So much for a quiet Day 2 of the NHL draft. Before the second round was completed, five significant trades were completed, four of them involving goaltenders.
And perhaps the most shocking aspect of all of it was two moves by the New York Rangers to trade established players in return for prospects and draft picks. Much of that was necessitated by salary cap concerns, but it does represent something of a reversal for them.
The biggest of the trades came before the 41st pick overall, when the Rangers sent Carl Hagelin, along with the 59th and 179th picks in this draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Emerson Etem and the 41st pick, which the Rangers used to select Ryan Groupp.
The Rangers gave up some speed and skill in Hagelin, but will be gaining some size and youth in Etem. But this was a deal where money was doing the talking. As a restricted free agent, Hagelin likely would have been asking for a deal in the $4 million range and that appeared to be a problem for the Rangers. Etem, coming off an entry-level deal and still unable to establish himself as a full-time NHLer, will command far less. And the Rangers get a player who is four years younger.
The Ducks, on the other hand, get a player who can produce offense and play in their top six, but more importantly is a guy who has gone to the Stanley Cup final and the Eastern Conference final in the past two seasons. The Ducks are still trying to get over the hump in the playoffs and Hagelin’s big-game experience should help them. And for an elite team, the Ducks are in an absolutely fantastic cap situation, with $24.7 million in space going into the free agency season. Hagelin will also soften the blow of losing Matt Beleskey to unrestricted free agency.
The Rangers were not finished, dealing backup goalie Cam Talbot and the 209th pick to the Edmonton Oilers for the 57th, 79th and 184th picks in the draft. With Mackenzie Skapski ready to take the backup spot, the Rangers save about $800,000 in cap space on that deal and the Oilers, finally, get a player they hope can end their goaltending problems. Talbot saved the Rangers and was a huge part of them winning the President’s Trophy this season, going 21-9-4 with a .926 save percentage and going 16-4-3 while No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist was injured.
Talbot seemed to be a hot commodity leading up to the draft, but the word was the Rangers were asking too much for him. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli was patient on this one and managed to get a player he hopes will be a starter without having to give up a roster player or a prospect to get him.
The Rangers then picked up another pick when they dealt the 57th overall pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for the 62nd and 113th picks.
It was clearly a day for goalies, with the Vancouver Canucks dealing Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a third-round pick in 2015 and a seventh-rounder in 2016. The Hurricanes then turned around and dealt backup Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski. The deal makes for an interesting situation in Anaheim, with the Ducks having three goalies, all of them on the last year of their current deals. And by dealing Wisniewski, they rid themselves of $5.5 million in cap space each of the next two seasons.
The Canucks have already made a commitment to Ryan Miller, whom they signed to a three-year deal last summer. And they have done that at their peril, deciding to give up on a good goalie in Lack in favor of keeping Miller and Jacob Markstrom, who has been lights-out in the minors, but has faltered every time he has had a chance at the NHL level.
Finally, the Dallas Stars acquired the rights to Antti Niemi for a seventh-round pick from the San Jose Sharks. The deal gives the Stars four days to deal with Niemi exclusively before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The fact the Stars did the deal is a clear indication they’re not happy with the goaltending they got from Kari Lehtonen, who still has three years left on his deal at $5.9 million.