New York Rangers Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All-Time

Ryan McDonagh
COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The History of Trade is a mini series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the New York Rangers trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.

The New York Rangers, an original six hockey club founded in 1926, certainly have a long history of trade transactions. The Rangers trades have run the gamet from inspiring to idiotic. In recent history, there’s been more bad than good, who can forget Carl Hagelin. However, throughout the Rangers 91 year history, which trades reign most supreme or shameful?

Best Trade

When examining trades, it’s always about getting more out of it than the other team. The Rangers front office might think it’s a trade that puts people in seats or money in their pockets, like trading for Pavel Bure. The best trade in team history is one that involving a long-term rival of the Blueshirts, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Trade

The New York Rangers acquire Long Island-native, Christopher Higgins, 2007 first round draft pick Ryan McDonaghPavel Valentenko and the rights to Doug Janik in exchange for Tom Pyatt, Mike Busto and Scott Gomez.

Traded Away

This trade had a lot of moving pieces, including a huge salary dump for the New York Rangers. Gomez still had five years and $30 million on his contract with New York in 2009. Montreal was in desperate need of a center and Gomez looked to fit their bill perfectly. The other players, merely expendable. In fact, this seven-player transaction yielded only one shining star, but at least it was an All-Star.

The Return

Ryan McDonagh, a name now very familiar to Rangers fans everywhere wasn’t the headline in this trade, though he has certainly become it. McDonagh had never played an NHL game before heading to the big apple, but worked hard to make an impression with the Rangers. In 2014, he was named the captain after putting up career high stats in 2013-14. McDonagh had 14 goals, 29 assists, 43 points, 13 power-play points, three shorthanded goals, four game-winning goals, and an average ice time of 24:49 as the Rangers marched their way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Today, McDonagh has gone on to become a two-time NHL All-Star and decorated Olympian for the United States of America. He’s the backbone for the team and an immovable piece on the Rangers top defensive pairing.


The other piece in this deal Scott Gomez, had a good first season with Montreal. Gomez netted 12 goals and earned 47 helpers for a total of 59 points on the season. Unfortunately, his production took a deep decline from there, earning only 38 points in his sophomore season with the Canadiens. Throughout the 2011-12 season, Gomez’s problems only worsened, scoring a mere two goals and nine assists in 38 games played. That summer the Canadiens bought out his contract and he never put on a Montreal sweater again.

Gomez went on to play for a smattering of other teams including the New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues before retiring before the 2016-17 season.

It’s easy to see that the Rangers came out on top in this situation, a well-played moment for the Rangers front office that is still paying dividends.

Honourable Mentions:

Rangers acquire Mika Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators for Derick Brassard. Rangers acquire Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Tony Amonte and the rights to Matt Oates. Rangers acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forwards Brandon DubinskyArtem Anisimov, defensive prospect Tim Erixon, a first-round draft pick in 2013, a conditional third-round pick in the and minor league defenseman, Steve Delisle.

Worst Trade

There’s no question that the Rangers have some pretty awful trade skeletons in their closet. Some of these poor judgement calls have happened in the recent past, remember, Carl Hagelin mentioned earlier? There is one trade though that is so awful, it reigns supreme decades later. A trade so bad, it alienated entire cities (and probably families). You know the one.

The Trade

The New York Rangers acquire Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais from the Boston Bruins for Brad Park, Jean Ratelle and minor league defenseman Joe Zanussi.

Traded Away

This trade was honestly, just not necessary. The Rangers and Bruins rivalry was at its peak in the 1970s, fans and players alike couldn’t stand each other. Phil Esposito was a God to Bruins fans and Brad Park was considered the best defenseman in the league without the name ‘Orr’ on the back of his sweater. Jean Ratelle, a Rangers legend through and through.

The Rangers were desperate for a change. 18 months prior, the Rangers suffered a game seven loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final and Emilie Francis had had enough. Francis wanted to shake the core of the Rangers and start fresh, also dumping Ed Giacomin, Gilles Villamure and Derek Sanderson to the St. Louis Blues. Francis stated to the New York Times that he was willing to make any change beneficial to the hockey club.

Brad Park and Jean Ratelle settled in with Boston, eventually earning the respect of the city.

The Return

Esposito was a power forward, the captain of the Bruins and a fixture in black and gold. However, his presence on the team was resented by the Blueshirt faithful. Luckily, Esposito continued to produce for the Rangers, making his replacing of Jean Ratelle warranted. It was Carol Vadnais that really made this trade bomb.

Vadnais was never going to measure up to the greatness of Park. Park went on to become a runner-up for the Norris trophy and earn two All-Star team selections with the Bruins. Unfortunately, Vadnais earned no such accolades with the Rangers before moving on to the New Jersey Devils after seven seasons in New York.


Dishonourable Mentions: Rangers acquire Emerson Etem from the Anaheim Ducks for Carl Hagelin. Rangers acquire Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall 2017 draft pick for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta.


Main Photo:

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 7: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)


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