Every trade made in the National Hockey League is a gamble. General Managers roll the metaphorical dice and see if they can parlay their currently held assets for a net gain in terms of talent and cap room. Sometimes, a GM’s actions are forced because of a player demanded trade or maybe a no-trade clause limits the potential destinations. Many factors must be considered when assessing a player’s trade value and they must be weighed according to the expectation of fans, who judge every move with the highest degree of scrutiny.
Starting with the legendary Lester Patrick when the Rangers were founded in 1926, 11 men have had the coveted, but pressure filled job of deciding who gets to pull on the blue sweater. Each has had to deal with a different set of circumstances as relations between players, ownership, and coaching staffs have changed over time. Modern GMs deal with a far higher amount of daily analysis when compared to their counterparts from the Original Six era. Despite the change in eras, the end goal remains the same, as Jeff Gorton looks to build the squad that can lift the same Stanley Cup hoisted by Mark Messier.
It has been 22 years since Messier’s guarantee and Rangers fans are growing restless as Henrik Lundqvist enters the twilight of his career. Success has always been difficult to achieve in the NHL, and building a cohesive team is a highly publicized highwire act. This article will cover the most unfortunate trade acquisitions in Rangers history, where Rangers GMs put their teams in a worse position than if they had held pat.
15. Mike Keane to Dallas
When Mike Keane was shipped to Dallas along with Brian Skrudland and a sixth round choice that eventually became Pavel Patera, it was a necessary shakeup because Keane’s production had taken a serious dive. The Rangers received Bob Errey, Todd Harvey, and a pick used to select Boyd Kane. Keane’s production took an immediate increase and he played well enough to earn Selke consideration in two of the next three seasons. Meanwhile, Errey and Harvey only played a total of 80 games for the Rangers, while Kane never managed to make an appearance with the club. Keane was a key member of the Stars back to back Stanley Cup runs that ended with him lifting the Cup in 1999. By every measure, the Rangers were big losers in this deal.
14. Ed Olczyk to Winnipeg
Eddie Olczyk’s tenure in New York was an overall success because of the end result of the Rangers lifting the Stanley Cup. The Rangers gave up Tie Domi in order to acquire Olczyk only to have him miss the majority of the 1993-94 season with a thumb injury. Olczyk’s production returned to career average numbers after being dealt back to the Jets in exchange for a fifth round NHL draft selection that would eventually be used on Alexei Vasilev. Vasiliev was a defenseman who made only a single appearance in the NHL for the Rangers, before returning to play in the KHL for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Olczyk’s contribution to that Stanley Cup winning team wasn’t enormous, so the Rangers missing out on the prime years of Tie Domi was a high price to pay.
13. Tony Amonte to the Blackhawks
Tony Amonte played his first three NHL seasons with the Rangers starting in 1991. After finishing second in Calder Trophy voting his rookie year, his production increased in his second season before heading south in year three. The Rangers panicked and dealt the struggling American All-Star with just seven games remaining in the 1993-94 regular season. They received Brian Noonan and Stephane Matteau in exchange, who both saw their names etched on the Cup at the end of the year. However, Amonte went on to become a consistently productive star for the Blackhawks, leading to five career All-Star game appearances. He currently holds the ninth highest point total of all-time for an American player. Noonan and Matteau did not continue with the Rangers beyond the 1995-96 season.
12. John Vanbiesbrouck to Vancouver
The Rangers had a goaltender problem in the 1992-93 season. John Vanbiesbrouck was an aging 29-year-old veteran, who many thought had already played the best hockey of his career. Mike Richter was a 26-year-old goaltender that was poised to take the reins and the Rangers needed to make their move in the offseason. The Beezer was sent to Vancouver for future considerations that eventually became Doug Lidster who played a few seasons for New York. After being claimed by the Florida Panthers in the expansion draft, Vanbiesbrouck had a career Renaissance, returning to the Vezina winning form he displayed early as a Ranger. Vanbiesbrouck was a crucial part of the Panthers run to the Stanley Cup in 1995 where they were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche in four games.
11. Carl Hagelin to Anaheim
After being drafted by the Rangers in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft, Carl Hagelin took a while to make his first appearance for the team. His rookie season was good enough to earn him votes for the Calder Trophy and he has developed into a forward that excels in the defensive areas of the game. The Rangers found him surplus to their needs and Glen Sather dealt him along with second and sixth round picks to Anaheim for Emerson Etem and a 2nd round pick. After playing half a season in Anaheim, he was shipped to Pittsburgh, where he helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Etem played only 19 games for the Rangers before being traded, while the pick used to select Ryan Gropp remains to be seen as a wise decision. Either way, Hagelin looks to have many years of NHL hockey ahead of him.