At first glance, the New Jersey Devils appeared to be on the winning side of their latest trade. On Thursday night, forward Michael Grabner joined the 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.
If you are a Devils fan, you think Grabner - speedy offensive boost. You look back at his latest seasons. Grabner has scored 52 goals (a pace of 31 goals per 82 games) in the last two seasons in the Big Apple, and had been quite the bright side of things for a Rangers organization that hasn’t had many in recent years. Looking at this trade, and from a production and cap point of view, there’s an argument to be made that Grabner can be considered one of the more valuable players in the league.
So, you are a Devils fan - you are more than pleased, especially that your club is currently sitting in playoff contention, with the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, with a total of 70 points, five over the Columbus Blue Jackets slotted in the last available postseason spot.
However, Larry Brooks of the New York Post has revealed on Saturday morning that the Rangers may have subtly won this latest trade. Here is why. Let's focus on the young prospect that headed to the Big Apple in the trade. Rykov looks good on paper to start off with. In his most recent season with the St. Petersburg SKA in the Kontinental Hockey League, the 20-year-old defenseman has tallied two goals and 12 points in 51 games, adding an impressive +13 rating to his statistics.
However, there's the twist. According to Brooks, Rykov could manage to be a deciding factor in the Rangers' pursuit for veteran forwards, most importantly for THE veteran forward: Ilya Kolvachuk. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman recently wrote this in one of his 31 Thoughts column:
"One of the Olympic hockey subplots will be Ilya Kovalchuk. Unlike last summer, when New Jersey held his rights, he is unrestricted this time. And, if he comes back to the NHL, it is believed his eyes are on New York."
Brooks supports the report, adding that Rykov’s teammate could be interested in joining him with the Rangers. It seems far-fetched, even for Brooks at the moment, but if New York can pull off this move, the rebuild will take quite an impressive turn.
"Whether the Rangers will be back in the business of signing veteran free agents this summer — including, most notably, Rykov’s teammate, Ilya Kovalchuk — to accelerate their rebuilding, remains to be seen," Brooks writes.
There is one slight issue with Ryvov...He is not only signed until 2018-19 but he’s also signed with the richest team in the KHL. They can definitely afford to keep him and pay him a hefty amount to remain in Russia.
The Rangers could promise him minutes but the rebuilding phase might scare both Rykov and Kovalchuk off... Let's see if Gorton and Sather will find the right words to make these impressive additions take place...