The New York Rangers appear to be going all-in for a Stanley Cup run this season after acquiring Eric Staal in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Rangers were expected to make at least one significant move at the deadline this year, and now general manager Jeff Gorton has pulled off that move. Staal is coming over to the Rangers in exchange for prospect Aleksi Saarela and two second round draft picks, one for 2016 and one for 2017. The Hurricanes will also keep 50 percent of Staal's salary in the deal, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
The move is a significant one for the Rangers, as the team has been looking for extra depth on offense, and now Staal can provide it. Staal was mentioned in trade rumors for most of the season for the Hurricanes, as the team is not currently in the playoff race. Staal also was heading toward unrestricted free agency, and with Carolina likely not going to sign him back, a trade was expected.
Staal will join his brother Marc Staal on the Rangers, leaving his brother Jordan Staal behind in Carolina. Alan Muir at Sports Illustrated gave the trade a positive grade from the New York side, as the team was able to add a strong front-line player without giving up any of the team's "first-rounders along with the organization's top prospects."
Muir wrote that two years ago the team was in a similar situation with Martin St. Louis, as he was running out the string in Tampa Bay and wanted to move. While the trade was completed with the Lightning and the Rangers made an appearance in the Stanley Cup, general manager Glen Sather was forced to give up two first-round picks and captain Ryan Callahan in the deal. Giving up those first-round picks was a tough move for the Rangers, and this time around they were able to add a captain from another team without such a high price.
The Rangers have a strong core that includes Henrik Lundqvist, Derick Brassard, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal, but as each year goes by that group gets older. The window is closing on Lundqvist's time being an elite goalie, and that is why the Rangers are pushing to make it to the finals again. Last year the team added Keith Yandle at the trade deadline, and he helped the team make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Staal now joins the Rangers and he could be the missing piece to the puzzle for the team. While Staal is heading toward free agency, Gorton said that the team is only thinking about "today" and the current season. That mindset fits into what the Rangers are trying to do this season, which is to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994.