Sometimes it’s tough to figure out for whom to root when your team doesn’t make the playoffs. If none of the 16 teams that did reach the postseason inspire a fan to root for them, then there is another option — following the former players of that fan’s team.
When that person is a fan of a rebuilding team, it makes that even easier because there are often so many options to choose from. That’s the case for fans of the New York Rangers this spring. After moving players for two consecutive season to playoff teams, there are certainly options to watch.
There are more former Rangers out there than those who departed since the Rangers initiated their rebuild, though. So, with that in mind, let’s go through a quick refresh of all former Rangers that are competing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and catch up on what they’ve done since playing in New York.
Steven Kampfer: Kampfer was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Dylan Mcllrath in 2016; his second stint with the Rangers. He played 32 games with the Rangers and 43 with the Wolf Pack before being traded to the Bruins, along with two draft picks, in exchange for Adam McQuaid in September 2018.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam McQuaid: In exchange for Kampfer, the Rangers gained McQuaid who became a defensive mainstay on Brady Skjei’s right until the 2019 trade deadline. The Rangers gained 2019 draft picks in the fourth and seventh round for McQuaid, along with Julius Bergman. McQuaid played 14 games with the Blue Jackets before sustaining an injury that he’s still out with.
Brandon Dubinsky: The Rangers’ 2004 draft pick played 393 games with the team before being traded to the Blue Jackets, along with Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick for Rick Nash. Dubinsky’s spent 393 games in Columbus, where he’s scored 213 points.
Derick Brassard: After acquiring Brassard in the Gaborik deal, along with Moore, he spent 254 games with the Rangers. In what’s the best move of general manager’s tenure, Brassard was traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second round pick.
Mats Zuccarello: At the 2019 deadline, Zuccarello was traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 2019 conditional second round pick and 2020 conditional third round pick. If the Dallas Stars reach the Western Conference Final and Zuccarello plays in at least 50 percent of the games, that second-rounder becomes a first round pick.
Zuccarello was traded after scoring 11 goals, 26 assists, and 37 points in 46 games with the Rangers this season. The undrafted wingers’ totals with the team ended at 352 points in 509 games between 2010 and 2019. Zuccarello was also a key part of the team’s playoff runs over the years; he played in 60 postseason games and scored 31 points.
Since the deadline, he’s played in just two games with the Stars and has three points – one goal and two assists. In his first game with Dallas, Zuccarello broke his arm while blocking a shot. He was held out of their final two games of the season as a precaution. If healthy, he’s already shown that he can have a direct impact on the Stars’ chances this postseason.
Brian Boyle: The Rangers acquired Boyle via trade at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He became a mainstay of the team from 2009 until 2014. After their Stanley Cup run, he left as a free agent and joined the Tampa Bay Lighting. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2017 trade deadline and signed with the New Jersey Devils that offseason. At this year’s trade deadline, he was traded to the Nashville Predators.
Cody McLeod: The Rangers claimed McLeod off of waivers in January 2018. They extended him for one year last offseason, and then traded him to the Predators in early February after playing 31 games with the team this year.
Matt Cullen: Cullen played 80 regular season games with the Rangers in 2006-07 and 10 playoff games. That offseason, a year after signing a four year contract with the team, he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Since leaving the Rangers, he’s played with the Hurricanes, Senators, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and Pittsburgh Penguins.
St. Louis Blues
Michael Del Zotto: After drafting Del Zotto 20th overall in 2008, he spent parts of five seasons with the team before being traded the Predators in exchange for defenseman Kevin Klein. After finishing the year in Nashville, he played three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and one full with the Vancouver Canucks. Twenty-three games into his second season with the Canucks, he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks. He was traded at the deadline to the St. Louis Blues.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ryan Callahan: Callahan was drafted by the Rangers in 2004 and played 450 games over the course of his career in New York, scoring 254 points. He was named the 26th captain in franchise history in September 2011.
In March 2014, the Rangers traded their captain to Tampa Bay in exchange for their captain, Martin St. Louis. The Rangers also sent a first- and second-round pick to the Lightning in the trade. After their 2014 Stanley Cup run, St. Louis and the Rangers faced off against the Lightning in the 2015 Eastern Conference final. Callahan, along with former Rangers Boyle and Anton Stralman defeated the Rangers and moved on the Stanley Cup Final.
Since joining the Lightning, Callahan’s played 307 regular season games and scored 132 points. He’s found himself as the 13th forward for parts of this season; he’s played in 52 of the Lightning’s 82 game this year.
Anton Stralman: Stralman signed a one year contract with Rangers in 2011 and spent three years with the team. He left via free agency in 2014 when the team opted to pursue Dan Boyle and instead joined the Lightning, where he became a top-four defender. He’s played 355 games in Tampa Bay since signing there. A lower body injury will keep him from Game 1 of the 2019 playoffs.
Dan Girardi: The undrafted defenseman signed with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate and made his debut at the NHL level during the 2006-07 season. He became a defensive stalwart for the team as one of their first pair defensemen. Girardi played 12 seasons in New York before he was bought out of the remaining years of his contract. He signed with the Lightning as a free agent in the 2017 offseason, playing 77 games in his first year, and 62 this season.
Ryan McDonagh: The McDonagh acquisition stands as one of the best trades of Glen Sather’s tenure as general manager of the Rangers. He played 516 regular season games with the Rangers, scoring 238 points. McDonagh wore a Rangers’ sweater for an addition 96 games in the playoffs with the team. The defender developed into their number one defenseman and was named the 27th captain in franchise history in October 2014.
McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with J.T. Miller at the 2018 trade deadline in exchange for a first round pick, conditional second round pick, Vlad Namestnikov, Brett Howden, and Libor Hajek. That conditional second becomes a first if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup this year. He finished the year in Tampa Bay after playing 14 regular season games and 17 playoff games. He signed a seven year extension with the Lightning in July 2018.
This year, he’s been a stalwart on defense for the Lightning, playing through all 82 of their games, scoring a career-high of 46 points, and averaging over 21 minutes a night.
J.T. Miller: Along with McDonagh, Miller was traded to the Lightning at the 2018 deadline. Miller had been a part of the Rangers’ organization since he was traded 15th overall in 2011. Over his 341 game Rangers’ career, he scored 172 points. Over his last 94 games with the Lightning, he’s earned 65 points. Miller extended for five years with the Lightning last June.
Vegas Golden Knights
Brandon Pirri: Pirri signed on with the Rangers as a free agent in August 2016 and played in 60 games. After his time in New York, he signed a one year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights for the 2017-18 season, and mainly played for their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves where he scored 52 points in 57 games. He’s split this season between Chicago (42 points in 29 games) and Vegas (18 points in 31 games).
Nick Holden: The Rangers acquired Holden at the 2016 draft from the Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick. He spent the next year and half on the Rangers’ blue line before being traded to the Bruins at the 2018 deadline in exchange for a third-round pick and Rob O’Gara. He signed with the Golden Knights as a free agent last July.
Kevin Hayes: Hayes was traded to the Winnipeg Jets at the 2019 deadline in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick and Brendan Lemieux. If the Jets win the Stanley Cup this year, the Rangers also receive a 2022 fourth-rounder.
Hayes was on pace to set career highs with the Rangers after scoring 42 points in 51 games this season, which was just seven points shy of his 49-point high. All together, he earned 216 points in 361 games with the Rangers.
Since the trade, he has five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 20 games.
Carl Hagelin: The Rangers’ 2007 draft pick played with the club from 2011 until 2015, where he accumulated 130 points in 266 games. He was a major part of their playoff runs in that time; he skated in 73 postseason games with the Rangers and scored 26 points.
Hagelin was traded to the Ducks in 2015 just before becoming a restricted free agent in exchange for Emerson Etem. He was traded to the Penguins early that season and went on to win two Stanley Cups with them. Hagelin was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in November of this season, and moved back east when the Washington Capitals acquired him just before the 2019 deadline.
Blueshirt Banter’s Tom Urtz Jr. will be keeping track of all of these former Rangers throughout the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for a very worthy cause — which he explained below.
Last year I ran my first Hockey Fights Cancer pledge drive, and it was very successful. Based on how fun it was and the interest it generated, I decided I wanted to do something for the playoffs. I decided to pledge $1 for every point tallied by a former Ranger with the amounts going up each round. I ended up donating the money pledged to support the Humboldt Broncos who went through a beyond devastating tragedy.
Here is my final #HumboldtStrong #HumboldtMoTB update. Since Lindberg didn’t play Rd. 4, I decided to have a MISC category. I decided to give $4 per goal differential each game. G1 (2), G2 (1), G3 (2), G4 (4), G5 (1) for a total of 10, or $40 extra. pic.twitter.com/3zDG5sA2K5
— Tom Urtz Jr. (@TomUrtzJr) June 8, 2018
I thought it was an extremely worthy cause to support, and it was fun to have a rooting interest for the former Rangers in the playoffs.
This year I will once again be tracking the performance of former Rangers with points earned in Round 1 being worth $1.00 each Points in Round 2 will be worth double, points in Round 3 worth triple and so on.
The two groups that will be receiving donations once the playoffs end are RAINN and New Alternatives, a drop-in center for LGBTQ homeless youth in New York City who help young people transition out of the shelter system to stable adult lives.If you are interested in playing along, that would be awesome, and feel free to donating to these organizations or ones you are particularly passionate about.
The tracker will be updated just about every day with Shayna’s help, and I’d like to thank you all in advance for your support.
All data via Hockey-Reference