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Rangers refuse to deal away future

Limited trade-deadline moves reflect Sather's confidence in young talent

Monday, 02.28.2011 / 8:36 PM / News
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Rangers Add Mitchell at Deadline
McCabe Right Player in Right Move
Complete List of NHL Deadline Deals

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

When the dust settled and the NHL’s trading deadline had passed at 3 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon, the Rangers, despite making only one minor move on Monday, were more than pleased where their team stood.

By holding on to their talented young NHL players, as well as their string of blue-chip prospects, the Bluehirts remained committed not only to their short-term success, but to their long-term vision, as well.

The Rangers' only acquisition on the day of the annual trade deadline was forward John Mitchell, who has spent much of the past three seasons with Toronto. To get Mitchell, the Blueshirts only had to part with next year's seventh-round draft pick.
“There was a lot of interest in our young guys, but we really didn’t want to trade any of our kids,” Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather said after the deadline had passed. “The goal (today) was not to give up any of these young kids that are coming and developing right now. I’m not just talking about the ones that are here, but also the depth players we have with (the Connecticut Whale) and the players we have that aren’t signed yet coming out of junior and college.”

The fact that the Rangers had already previously addressed two areas that management and the coaches had targeted for improvement was also a big factor in the team remaining relatively quiet on Monday.

Two days before the deadline, Sather swung a deal to acquire veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Tim Kennedy and a third-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. And on Jan. 10, he picked up skilled forward Wojtek Wolski from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Rozsival.

“We ended up getting McCabe a few days earlier and Wolski a couple of weeks ago,” said Sather, who on Monday acquired center John Mitchell from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a seventh round pick in the 2012 draft and then assigned Mitchell to Connecticut. “We wanted to get a good left-handed shooting defenseman, and with McCabe I think we did that. And with Wolski we needed someone up front that’s got a little more finesse with the puck, and I think we did that.”

Wolski has played in 21 games with the Rangers since the trade and has scored five goals and totaled 12 points. A week ago in Carolina, he scored the game-tying goal with 1:50 remaining in regulation and then proceeded to score the only goal in the shootout -- helping the Rangers secure a critical 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes.

The NHL readiness of draft picks like Derek Stepan was just one of many reasons why Glen Sather was adamantly opposed to the idea surrendering any of the team's talented young roster players or wealth of top-end prospects not yet playing at the NHL level.
McCabe made his Rangers’ debut in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Lightning, logging more than 17 minutes of ice-time and creating several good scoring chances with his booming shot from the blueline.

“He’s going to help us,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of McCabe. “He’s always ready to shoot. He’s got a shooter’s mentality. He has to learn our defensive coverages, as any new player does. But he’s been in the league for 15 years and he’ll pick things up quickly. He’s going to fit in just fine here. This was a good trade for us.”

Mitchell, 26, had appeared in 23 games with the Maple Leafs this season but was with the club’s AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, at the time of Monday’s trade. He had two goals and three points at the NHL level this season, giving him 20 goals and 55 points in 159 career NHL games.

The big story on Monday, however, from a Rangers’ perspective, was that the young players who make up an important part of the current team, and others who will be arriving in the not-so-distant future, remained within the organization and were not traded away.

“There was a lot of interest in our young guys, but nothing where I wanted to part with any of them,” said Sather. “We think we have good chemistry here, and we have some guys coming back from injury in the next week. So we are still in pretty good shape. We have a hard-working team that has stuck together and worked really well together, and I didn’t want to disrupt that. I think we are going to be just fine.”