By: Jake Reiser
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks.com
With training camp set to begin this week, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton added a veteran presence to the blue line Monday by acquiring defenseman Adam McQuaid from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Steven Kampfer and two picks.
The Original Six franchises aren’t unfamiliar recent trading partners — last season New York sent Nick Holden and Rick Nash in separate deals up to Boston. This time around, the return the Blueshirts are getting brings strength to the defensive zone and an all-around well-liked personality off the ice.
McQuaid, 31, has spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, getting his call-up from the AHL in 2010 and sticking on Boston’s blue line ever since. A Stanley Cup champion in 2011, McQuaid’s expertise comes as a stay-at-home defenseman with an abundance of toughness and an old-school hockey attitude.
In a team that wants to bring a sense of speed, skill and tenacity to the ice, McQuaid represents a different — yet still important — quality for the Rangers youth to keep mindful of: hard work. As Rangers head coach David Quinn mentioned in his introductory press conference, “You’ve got to come to the rink every day with a game-like mentality and work on getting better.” And McQuaid embodies that ideal.
The Prince Edward Island-native came to work every day ready to fight for a spot in the lineup despite challenges to his ice time due to a logjam of defensemen in the Bruins’ system.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman was limited to just 38 games last year with a broken leg and has had injury issues throughout his career. But, that won’t stop McQuaid from being a part of Quinn’s formula to become a more difficult team to play against. Never afraid to block a shot or drop the gloves sticking up for a teammate, McQuaid easily fits into the lineup as a potential third pairing with the likes of Fredrik Claesson, John Gilmour, Tony DeAngelo, Rob O’Gara or Brendan Smith.
What stands out even more beyond his on-ice fortitude is his popular presence in the locker room and off the ice. McQuaid has always been a player willing to stand up for his team in the locker room after practice as he would at the rink during a game.
In a locker room where the average age will now hover around 26 years old, McQuaid’s veteran perspective and likability will become some of his biggest assets to help hold a young team together as the club rebuilds.