Rangers Skid After Blockbuster Trade


The Rangers are doing whatever they can to win the Stanley Cup. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Saturday, the New York Rangers lost their second game in a row since acquiring Chicago Blackhawks legend Patrick Kane on Feb. 28. In Kane’s first game as a Ranger, they fell to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and to the Bruins in his second game on Saturday with a 4-2 score. The Rangers are skidding in crunch time, but the three day break before their next game will give them time to adjust to the new additions in the team and subsequent line changes on the power play.

Chris Drury’s deal for Patrick Kane seemed to be in place for almost a week, but salary cap issues and Kane’s no-movement clause prevented them from acquiring him until the end of February. Because of the circumstances regarding Kane’s preferences, the Rangers had all the leverage they needed. The star right-winger would reportedly only waive his full no-movement clause for the Rangers, and the Blackhawks wanted to get a return for him instead of losing him for nothing in the offseason. The return for the Blackhawks was abysmal, but their hands were tied. Drury only had to send a 2023 conditional second round pick and a 2025 fourth round pick in exchange for Kane and Cooper Zech, a defenseman who has spent most of his career in the American Hockey League. In order for the Rangers to get the deal done with enough salary cap space, they’ve been playing with only 11 forwards and five defensemen after the NHL denied their request for an emergency recall. They edged out wins against the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers, but dropped the past two to the Sens and Bruins with the shorthanded lineup.

Despite the Rangers’ recent shortcomings and roster gymnastics, the excitement around Kane has been palpable. He has no points in his first two games, but head coach Gerard Gallant hopes that the issue will sort itself out in the three practices before the next game. The young players on the Rangers’ roster are excited to play with their childhood idol, and star winger Artemi Panarin is happy to be reunited with his former linemate. In Panarin’s short-lived Blackhawks tenure, he and Kane combined for 346 points, demonstrating their lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that they are looking to reignite.

During the 2015-16 NHL season, Kane won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP, and Panarin won the Calder Trophy given to the best rookie. Gallant has them on the same line during five-on-five play, and placed them both on the first powerplay unit to spark the chemistry in time for the playoffs.

Evidently, Drury’s biggest move of the season has a lot of implications for the team at this point in the season. The addition of Kane and Tarasenko signals that the Rangers are truly in the “cup or bust” mindset: this is the season that they need to win the Stanley Cup. Kane is not likely to resign due to the salary cap unless he takes a major pay cut in order to stay, and Tarasenko isn’t likely to stay for the same reason. Drury was able to acquire these players without completely jeopardizing the team’s chances in the future, but young players like Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere will be looking for larger contracts in the offseason, only complicating the situation even more. With all of this in mind, the Blueshirts’ only goal this season is to go the distance and bring the famed Stanley Cup back to New York for the first time in 29 years.