Rangers Trade Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuaid, Stockpiling Prospects

Rangers Trade Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuaid, Stockpiling Prospects

A year after publicly announcing their rebuilding effort in a letter to fans, the Rangers continued making moves on Monday at the N.H.L. trading deadline, stockpiling more young prospects and draft picks through two trades.

Two days after shipping the popular forward Mats Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars, the Rangers traded Kevin Hayes, a high-scoring forward, to the Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In return for the 26-year-old Hayes, who, like McQuaid and Zuccarello, is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, the Rangers received the 22-year-old forward Brendan Lemieux — Winnipeg’s first-round pick in the June draft — and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022.

The Rangers added two more draft picks in the trade with Columbus, as well as the 23-year-old prospect Julius Bergman, in exchange for McQuaid, 32.

“I would say we met or hopefully did better than our expectations,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said of the three trades over the last few days.

The Rangers now potentially have two first-round picks, three second-round selections and one choice each in Rounds 3 through 7 in this June’s draft.

If the first-round pick they received on Monday from Winnipeg becomes a top-three pick via the draft lottery, it would shift to the first round in 2020. They would receive the conditional fourth-round pick if Winnipeg wins the Stanley Cup this season.

“We’ve added a lot of assets, a lot of opportunities for our team to get better hopefully in a relatively quick fashion,” Gorton said.

That includes Lemieux — the son of former Devils forward Claude Lemieux, a four-time Stanley Cup champion — who had nine goals and two assists in 44 games for the Jets this season. But the trade cost Hayes, who was third on the Rangers in scoring with 14 goals and 28 assists in 51 games this season, his fifth with the franchise. The 6-foot-5 Hayes has been a mainstay for the Rangers since signing as a free agent out of Boston College in 2014.

McQuaid joined the Rangers before this season in a trade from Boston. He was a solid blueline presence in 36 games for the Rangers, who received the Blue Jackets’ fourth- and seventh-round picks for this June.

The Rangers, almost certain to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season after reaching the postseason seven straight years, have been amassing draft picks and prospects since writing a letter to fans last February asking for patience as the roster revamp unfolds.

“At some point with all of our draft picks, we’re going to have to look at the possibility of maybe moving some and getting some N.H.L. players in here,” Gorton said.

Last February, the Rangers shipped Rick Nash to Boston and traded their captain, Ryan McDonagh, and forward J. T. Miller to Tampa Bay in roster-altering deals.

The departure of Zuccarello to the Stars on Saturday took a high emotional toll on teammates. Zuccarello was particularly close friends with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and his linemate Mika Zibanejad, the team’s leading scorer.

After Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss at Washington, Lundqvist broke down when asked about the trade. Lundqvist has watched many teammates depart in his 14 years with the Rangers, but he had developed an especially deep bond with the gregarious Zuccarello. The pair worked together on an outdoor game for charity in Oslo last summer.

“It’s tough, a good friend,” Lundqvist said, his eyes watering and voice cracking. “I’m sorry. I can’t.”

Gorton said trading Zuccarello had not been easy for him.

“It’s always hard when you trade a player of that magnitude that’s meant so much to the organization,” Gorton said.

In an unfortunate twist, Zuccarello suffered a broken arm when he blocked a shot in his debut with the Stars on Sunday. He is expected to be out of the lineup for four weeks.

In other key trades on Monday, Ottawa sent forward Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights, Philadelphia traded veteran forward Wayne Simmonds to Nashville, and the Florida Panthers sent former Rangers forward Derick Brassard — acquired earlier this month from Pittsburgh — to the Colorado Avalanche. On Monday night, Brassard scored for the Avalanche against the Panthers, his employer at the beginning of the day.

Nashville also acquired forward Mikael Granlund from Minnesota for forward Kevin Fiala.

The Devils made two trades, shipping forward Marcus Johansson to Boston for two draft picks and trading goaltender Keith Kinkaid to Columbus for a fifth-round pick in 2022.

The first-place Islanders decided to stand pat at the deadline.

“You don’t do something just for the sake of doing it,” Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello said.

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