Metropolitan deadline analysis: Rangers lose big

Metropolitan deadline analysis: Rangers lose big
March 6, 2014, 7:00 pm
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The Rangers made a stunning move, sending Ryan Callahan (right) to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. (USA Today Images)

The Penguins didn’t get Ryan Kesler.

The Rangers, despite being close to a contract with captain Ryan Callahan, threw up their hands in frustration and traded him anyway.

The Isles continued their path to self-destruction by virtually giving away Thomas Vanek to Montreal.

The Devils picked up a valuable player in Tuomo Ruutu.

Within the confines of the Metropolitan Division, none of those teams significantly improved themselves at the deadline and at least two are the poorer for it.

Pittsburgh got Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak to help them on the injury front, but they were pretty much the lone serious suitor for Kesler.

That they couldn’t pull it off is very unlike general manager Ray Shero, who almost always comes up with a major coup at the end.

“I don’t think there was a deal to be made,” Shero told reporters in Pittsburgh.

So he made a couple minors ones.

Numerous sources suggested the Flyers only interest in Kesler was from the standpoint of driving the price up for Pittsburgh. It must have worked because the Penguins didn’t get Kesler.

Here in Philly, the Flyers didn’t lose any sought-after assets they can better use this summer in trying to acquire an impact defenseman, likely at the NHL draft.

Although GM Paul Holmgren picked up considerable cap dollars by moving defenseman Andrej Meszaros to Boston, he didn’t make any foolhardy deals with that money.

Now what the Rangers forked over to Tampa Bay to acquire soon-to-be 39-year-old Marty St. Louis was absurd.

Not only did we see a captain for captain trade -- an NHL first at the deadline –- but GM Glen Sather also gave the Bolts a conditional pick this year and a first-rounder in 2015.

That’s insane!

Worse, it leaves the Rangers players a very divided club with management because, to a man, they wanted Callahan to remain on Broadway. Not the kind of issue any club needs in a stretch run.

Talk about killing morale, not to mention it makes MSG look every worse because they have the dollars to spend on just about anything and the Rangers are their marquee product on Broadway.

What if Marty St. Louis can’t re-ignite the spark he and Brad Richards once shared a very long time ago when Tampa won a Stanley Cup? Sather is counting on that happening. That’s not a risk. It’s a wish that may never come true.

Tampa is the big winner there, especially if Callahan re-signs. Is there any team in the NHL who wouldn’t want Callahan, regardless of his future cost?

The Flyers?

They traded Meszaros to the Bruins for what could be a second or third-round pick or two picks, partially offsetting what they gave up to acquire Andrew MacDonald from the Isles.

MacDonald is a better long-term replacement for the oft-injured Meszaros, who wasn’t going to be re-signed by the Flyers and was earning $4 million for being benched half the season.

Outside of defense, the Flyers could have used more scoring depth on the wing, and that’s where Minnesota seemed to make out well with the acquisition of Matt Moulson from the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres.

What the Flyers failed to get at the deadline was an impact defenseman. It’s something all 30 NHL clubs covet. Some, like Nashville, have one or two.

The Flyers haven’t had that player since Chris Pronger went on LTIR never to seen again. Holmgren gets another summer to try and solve his dilemma.

Worst day for anyone at the deadline? Had to be Isles GM Garth Snow, hands down.

When you consider that Snow gave Buffalo a first and second-round pick plus Moulson earlier this season just to acquire Vanek, then let Vanek go to Montreal for a prospect and conditional draft pick -- that ranks as a colossal blunder.

Our runner-up for organizational disaster would be Vancouver GM Mike Gillis.

Yeah, Gillis unloaded Roberto Luongo’s contract, but this once-feared club from the West no longer has solid goaltending, especially in light of trading Cory Schneider to New Jersey at the draft last summer.

The failure to trade Kesler to restock with prospects only adds to the Canucks’ grief, since he apparently didn’t want to remain in British Columbia anyway.

Gillis gets a chance to recover this summer when the draft rolls around, but don’t be surprised if defenseman Alex Edler is dealt as well. He was an asset Gillis could have parlayed in a larger deal involving Kesler and didn’t.

In the end, however, it appeared as though Canucks’ owner Francesco Aquilini wanted these particular players protected for now on the slim hope the club will make the playoffs.

The free-falling Canucks are seeded 11th in the Western Conference and are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games.

Good luck with that.