The first big name on the trade bait list was taken off the board last night, as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils have agreed on a trade that involves three different pieces.
First, the biggest name in the deal is that of New York Rangers forward Michael Grabner who will now be joining the New Jersey Devils' franchise as they attempt to make a run at the Stanley Cup Championship. In exchange for Grabner the Devils did send a second round pick in this year's draft, as well as prospect Yegor Rykov to the Rangers.
Rykov is a former New Jersey Devils' 5th round draft pick who has spent all of his professional career with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League. He is coming off arguably his strongest season, one in which he appeared in 52 games for St. Petersburg SKA en route to recording 2 goals and 12 assists for a total of 14 points. Over that period of play he has accumulated a plus/minus rating of +13.
The Devils were not the only team who was in on Grabner, who was one of the most coveted trade bait in New York and could be the first major domino that gets the ball rolling on the other trades that have been rumored all around the National Hockey League, with just three days to go before the deadline on Monday.
According to TSN insider Darren Dreger, the Pittsburgh Penguins were also looking to land Grabner, but removed themselves from negotiations before he was sent packing to New Jersey. Grabner did not take part in the Rangers' latest game in Montreal, where they faced the Canadiens last night. It is believed talks were quickly unfolding before the contest, potentially with Pens general manager Jim Rutherford as well, but he ended up changing his mind.
Dreger believes the price for Grabner was too high for Rutherford, who has been looking to add an offensive boost ahead of the trade deadline.
The Penguins are also rumoured to be interested in Ottawa Senators' Derick Brassard and Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec. There has been a strong belief that the Penguins have not been satisfied with the play of former Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan sine they acquired him in a trade earlier this season. While it's true that the Penguins need depth at center, they have been looking for someone a grade above what Sheahan brings to the table.
This appears to be where Brassard, a highly-experienced and talented center, would come into the equation. Despite being 30-years-old and playing for a team that has seemingly collapsed this season Brassard has remained a consistent performer for the Ottawa Senators thus far. He has also played for head coach Mike Sullivan, back when they were both members of the Rangers.
There's been no word from Dreger on what the Penguins would be willing to give up in exchange for Brassard but it seems like that veteran defenseman Ian Cole, a player that has been dangled on the trading block for quite some time now, would be a piece that would interest Senators general manager Pierre Dorion.
Rutherford has been giving up picks and prospects for a while now, which has paid off with back-to-back championships. However, it may be why the deal with the Rangers for Grabner fell through as he commanded both pieces from the Devils.