Rangers’ 9 Best Deadline Deals

No question, the Stanley Cup Playoffs rank as the most exciting aspect of the season.

But when it comes to the homestretch, the tension surrounding the annual trade deadline can’t be beat and this year is no exception.

On Wednesday, the National Hockey League clock will be ticking up until 3 p.m. when all deals must be consummated.

As Rangers’ fans know from past experience, some of the most meaningful trades made by the Blueshirts took place between the 11th and 12th hour before the gong signaled END.

By far the year that produced the most significant — and numerous — deals was 1993-94. The melodramatic moments leading up to the deadline never will be forgotten by Rangers fans who were around at the time.

As the Blueshirts were heading for a Presidents’ Trophy regular season Championship, General Manager Neil Smith and his turbulent Coach Mike Keenan bickered over the manner in which the lineup should be altered.

Smith reasoned that, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” since the club was playing so well from beginning to end.

By contrast, Keenan argued for change, His argument centered around the difference between playoff hockey and the regular season.

For one thing, “Mad Mike” was not happy with Mike Gartner, despite the speedy forward’s goal-scoring ability, nor did he think of Tony Amonte as a strong enough playoff performer.

Eventually, Smith saw the light and followed through on his coach’s wishes. By the time the deadline dust had cleared, the Blueshirts had vacuumed their roster of Amonte, Gartner, and another forward, Todd Marchant.

Meanwhile, the following performers were added including Stephane Matteau, Brian Noonan, Glenn Anderson, and Craig MacTavish. All were forwards with an assortment of talent and one common trait — grit.

You don’t have to be a Rangers’ rooter to recall how valuable each of the additions were, nor can anybody forget that they were instrumental in the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup that spring.

With that deal in mind, not to mention many others, The Maven presents “The 9 Best Around The Trade Deadline All-time Deals Made By The Rangers.” In chronological order.

I rated them on the basis that five stars is the best possible deal. Here goes:

1 Andy Bathgate Sent to Leafs in 7-Player Trade (2/22/1964)

Rangers Bathgate 111261

Back in the Original Six Era, it wasn’t uncommon for blockbuster trades to occur, and this one ranks right up there. During a season that would see the Blueshirts finish in fifth place with a measly 54 points, the Seventh Avenue Skaters did what they felt was best for business.

They traded Team Captain and franchise icon Andy Bathgate, who had led the team in scoring for the previous eight years, to Toronto, along with Don McKenney, for five players: forwards Bob Nevin, Dick Duff and Bill Collins as well as defensemen Arnie Brown and Rod Seiling.

Of the five players they got in return, three of them — Nevin, Brown and Seiling — had productive careers for the Blueshirts. As for Bathgate, he got the ultimate reward, he won the Stanley Cup with the Leafs.

RATING: FOUR STARS. Bathgate wanted out of New York while the Rangers received five valuable pieces in return.

2 New York Acquires Aging Marcel Dionne (3/10/1987)

MONTREAL 1980's: Marcel Dionne #16 of the New York Rangers skates against the Montreal Canadiens in the late 1980's at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

In a forgettable season that saw the Rangers employ three different head coaches, they still managed to remain in the playoff picture at the trade deadline.

Hoping to boost their scoring, the Rangers made a trade with the Kings that netted them a future Hall of Famer in Marcel Dionne. LA received center Bobby Carpenter and defenseman Tom Laidlaw. Along with Dionne, the Rangers received defenseman Jeff Crossman, and a 1989 3rd round draft pick, (eventually a player of no consequence, Murray Garbutt).

With the aforementioned boost to the team, the Rangers managed to fend off the Penguins for the last playoff berth, before ultimately falling to the Flyers in the Division Semi-Finals in six games.

RATING: THREE STARS. Dionne provided brilliant offensive hockey but for only a brief period.

3 Rangers Deal For Mike Gartner (3/6/1990)

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 15: Mike Gartner #22 of the New York Rangers turns up ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL game action on April 15, 1992 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Looking to add a goal-scorer in pursuit of their first division title in 48 years, the Rangers sent useful forward Ulf Dahlen, a 1990 4th round draft pick, and future considerations to the Minnesota North Stars for the speedy, sharpshooting Gartner.

Mike, along with the mid-season acquisition of All-Star Bernie Nicholls, led the team to the Patrick Division championship. New York then faced off against their bitter rivals, the Islanders in the Semi-Final Divisional Round of the playoffs. After beating the Isles four games to one, they took on the Washington Capitals in the Division Finals and lost the series four games to one.

RATING: FOUR STARS. Gartner did everything expected by the Rangers brass and eventually was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He impressed coach Roger Neilson but not Neilson’s successor, Mike Keenan. The latter couldn’t wait to unload Gartner and eventually GM Neil Smith did so.

4 Rangers Obtain Esa Tikkanen (3/17/1993)

MONTREAL 1990's: Esa Tikkanen #10 of the New York Rangers skates against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1990's at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

A potential Cup favorite entering the season, the Blueshirts disappointed as they struggled with inconsistent play and injuries throughout 1993-94. They had hoped to land superstar Eric Lindros but that move failed and The Big Guy landed in Philadelphia in a draft day mix-up.

With Neil Smith as general manager, the Rangers began raiding the Edmonton Oilers for talent. The Blueshirts dispatched Doug Weight, (yes the same Doug Weight who now coaches the Islanders), to the Oilers and received The Finnish Flash, Esa Tikkanen, who added some much needed fire to the team. Esa’s blend of scoring ability and humor immensely helped the Blueshirts, especially in the 1993-94 Cup year.

RATING: FOUR STARS. Tikkanen’s assets were hidden under the shadow of Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and other marquee-type ex-Oilers.

5 Rangers Prep for Stanley Cup, Acquire 4 Players (3/21/1994)

Canadian professional ice hockey player Stephane Matteau #32 of the New York Rangers skates on the ice in celebration toward bearded teammate Glenn Anderson after winning the Stanley Cup Championship, Madison Square Garden, New York, June 14, 1994. Stephane Matteau played for the New York Rangers from 1993 to 1996. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Looking to shore up their roster for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs, Neil Smith and Mike Keenan disagreed. Smith wanted to stand pat while his coach wanted more playoff-hardened skaters. Eventually, Keenan won out, and Smith pulled off three trades that had a significant impact on the team.

First, Smith traded forward Tony Amonte to Chicago for hard-checking Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan. Then he dealt Keenan’s bete-noir, Mike Gartner, to Toronto for speedy sharpshooter Glenn Anderson. Finally, Neil raided the Oilers once more this time by sending them Todd Marchant for versatile forward. Craig MacTavish.

The acquisition of Matteau, would prove especially important, as he wound up playing the hero in Games 3 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils.

In Game 3, Matteau beat Martin Brodeur with the double-overtime game-winning goal which gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 series lead.

For an encore, Matteau pulled off a the coup de grace in Game 7. The newly-minted Rangers hero again victimized Brodeur in double-overtime to send the Rangers into the Stanley Cup Final.

You know what happened after that. Each of the Rangers deadline acquisitions proved to be an asset in the Final Cup triumph over Vancouver.

RATING: FIVE STARS: Without the Keenan-encouraged deals it is doubtful that the Rangers would have had the armament to win The Cup.

6 Farewell to Ulf Samuelsson (3/23/1999)

BOSTON, MA - 1990's: Ulf Samuelsson #5 of the New York Rangers skates against the Boston Bruins at the Fleet Center. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)In a season that saw the Blueshirts miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year, what captured the fans’ attention was the impending retirement of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

Samuelsson, who had been a hard-nosed defenseman, was unloaded to the Red Wings for draft picks. The Rangers obtained Detroit’s 1999 2nd rounder and their 2000 3rd round draft pick. Those picks would net the Rangers David Inman (1999) and Igor Radulov (2000). Ironically, Samuelsson would return to The Garden a month later to take part in Gretzky’s farewell.

RATING: ONE STAR. The returns for New York were nil and Samuelsson was on the wrong side of his playing career.

7 Blockbuster With Blue Jackets (4/3/2013)

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Derick Brassard #16 of the New York Rangers is congratulated by his teammate Derek Dorsett #15 after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at Madison Square Garden on November 6, 2013 in New York City. The Rangers defeat the Penguins 5-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign, the Blueshirts were highly-rated and given a chance to reach the Stanley Cup Final. However, the club’s high command believed that more pieces were needed to complete the puzzle.

One challenge was integrating big, heavy-shooting Rick Nash into John Tortorella’s system. That done, a deal was consummated: Marian Gaborik, Blake Parlett and Steve Delisle were given tickets to Columbus in exchange for three of Nash’s former Blue Jacket teammates: Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, as well as a 2014 6th round draft pick.

Once the deal was done, the Blueshirts sprinted along with a 10-3-1 record and qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed in the East. Downing Washington in the first round, the Blueshirts took on Boston in the Conference Semi-Finals but lost four games to one. The defeat eventually sped the ouster of Coach Tortorella, and the subsequent hiring of Alain Vigneault in what was essentially a coach swap, as Tortorella then was hired by Vancouver to replace Vigneault.

RATING: FOUR STARS. In terms of the numbers and quality involved in the deal it gets a high rating. But the playoff results were disappointing and if you don’t believe me, ask Torts.

8 Captain for Captain Swap (3/5/2014)

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Martin St. Louis #26 of the New York Rangers move up ice at the Amalie Arena on November 26, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

In their first year under new coach Alain Vigneault, the Rangers suffered a long, disappointing West Coast road trip. Finally, the team began to gain traction in November, and eventually went into the Olympic break in February sporting a 33-24-3 record.

However, after failing to sign Captain Ryan Callahan to an extension the Blueshirts decided to trade the fan favorite as well as a 2014 conditional 2nd round draft pick and a 2015 1st round draft pick to Tampa Bay for the Lightning’s Captain Martin St. Louis. Although, he did not have much of an impact on the scoresheet throughout his first 19 games in a Ranger uniform, St. Louis proved to be just what the doctor ordered.

After beating the rival Flyers in the first round, the Rangers advanced to face Pittsburgh in the Conference Semi-Finals, winning Game 1 in overtime. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there as they found themselves staring down a 3-1 deficit in the series after losing Game 4.

After that loss put them on the brink of elimination, word came through that St. Louis’ mother had died. Being the brave soldier he was, St. Louis returned to the lineup in time for Game 5, and though he didn’t score in the contest, his presence inspired the team and spurred them to victory.

He would return to The Garden for Game 6 with New York still looking to stave off elimination. Marty would score the first goal of the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The Rangers would go on to win 3-1, forcing a Game 7 which they won as well.

In the next round, the Rangers faced the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 4, looking to extend his team’s lead in the series to three games to one, St. Louis provided the dramatic game-winner in sudden-death overtime.

Eventually defeating Montreal in six games, the Rangers would go on to face the LA Kings in the Stanley Cup Final, their first appearance in the Final since their magical ‘93-’94 ride. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as the Blueshirts fell in five games.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF STARS. Granted, Marty St. Louis didn’t get the Rangers the Stanley Cup, but his dramatic performances helped set them very close to capturing the Mug.

9 Rangers Acquire Yandle from Arizona (3/1/2015)

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers skates against the Minnesota Wild at Madison Square Garden on February 4, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Wild 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the midst of one of their most successful regular seasons in franchise history, then Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather made three trades on deadline day, none bigger than the acquisition of puck-moving defenseman Keith Yandle.

In a season that would see them win the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since their magical Cup year of 1993-94, the Blueshirts felt that in order to finally put themselves over the top, they needed a defenseman who could contribute on the offensive side of the puck as well.

Having gone to the Cup Final in a losing effort the year previous, and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals two years before that, the Rangers brass believed that Yandle was the missing piece.

A team’s window of opportunity only stays open so long and while the Blueshirts’ window was open they needed to go for it. Sather sent John Moore, a 2016 1st round draft pick, a 2015 2nd round draft pick, and the big piece, what was then considered a star blue chip prospect, Anthony Duclair to Arizona in exchange for Yandle, Chris Summers, and a 2015 4th round draft pick. Yandle seemed to be the perfect pick; a defenseman who could not only match up with the opposition’s top guys, but who could also move the puck up the ice and score as well.

To further solidify depth, Sather would also trade a 2016 4th round draft pick to San Jose for James Sheppard, and send Lee Stempniak to Winnipeg for Carl Klingberg. But it was obvious that the prize was Yandle.

Re-armed, the Blueshirts continued their winning ways, finishing the season with a franchise record 113 points and the Presidents’ Trophy.

On to the playoffs and another confrontation with their rivals, the Penguins. There would be no need for dramatic comebacks this time as the Rangers won the series in five games.

Next up were the Conference Semi-Finals and a familiar foe in the Washington Capitals. Wouldn’t you know it, they once again found themselves facing a 3-1 series deficit in the second round after Game 4. Only this time there was no emotional catalyst to inspire this team to comeback. Alas, they still found a way to comeback, thanks to clutch performances by Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, and the Game 7 hero Derek Stepan.

Another trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, where their new rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, awaited them. After swapping captains at the deadline the year before, the Lightning then went out and signed Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman and center Brian Boyle in the offseason, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the new rivalry. A hard fought back-and-forth series went the full seven games, culminated with the Rangers shockingly losing Game 7 at home and once more falling short of their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

RATING: FOUR STARS. Just for the numbers of players involved and the fact that the Rangers made a terrific run — despite losing to the Lightning — it was an exciting and fruitful deadline bonanza.