(Photo: NHL)

Going into this past weekend, Mats Zuccarello looked to be the New York Rangers player most likely to be traded before the March 2nd deadline.  But by 3pm on deadline day, Zuccarello and the Rangers’ front office had reached a deal: 4 years, $18 million ($4.5 mil/year) with a no-trade clause for the first year.  Zuccarello’s priority had been getting a long-term deal, one that would show that the Rangers organization had faith in him.  And after much negotiation these past few days, the two sides compromised, and Rangers fans across the board sighed in relief.  Madison Square Garden will not be rid of its “ZUUUUUUUUUUCC” cheers just yet.

But while Zuccarello is here to stay, at least for the forseeable future, John Moore, Anthony Duclair, Lee Stempniak, and a couple of picks have left the building.

The Rangers picked up Arizona Coyotes defensemen Keith Yandle and Chris Summers, as well as fourth-round pick in 2016, in exchange for Moore, Duclair, a first-round pick in 2016, and a second-rounder in the upcoming 2015 draft.  Yandle, 28, has four goals and 37 assists in 63 games.  Summers, 27, has three assists in seven games, and he has spent time with the Portland Pirates (Coyotes’ AHL affiliate) this season as well.  He will most likely finish the season with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack.

This is a trade that shows the Rangers are putting all their focus in the present as opposed to the future; with the Eastern Conference wide open this season and Henrik Lundqvist at his peak (once he returns from his injury, at least), the time for the Rangers to bring home the Cup is NOW.

“That’s what we all want, an opportunity to win the big prize…the way our team is built, this is our window to compete,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault told the press earlier today.

After an underwhelming season thus far for Stempniak, the third-line winger will join the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for 24-year-old Carl Klingberg.  Klingberg has spent the majority of this season with the St. John’s IceCaps (AHL), where he has 15 goals and 15 assists in 51 games.  He will join Summers in Hartford.

Late Sunday night, the Rangers made one final move.  They picked up center James Sheppard from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2016.  Sheppard, 26, has five goals and eleven assists in 57 games this season.

The Rangers sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with an overall record of 38-17-6.  They host the first-place Nashville Predators tonight (March 2) in the fight for another important two points.

 

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