As the 3 p.m. trade cut-off approached, it was hard to believe that Gorton would go a deadline without any serious moves, given this plan. But it seemed like maybe it was the right thing to do in order to keep morale in this locker room. After all, the young players need to understand the experience of playing important hockey down the stretch. Management wouldn’t want to send the wrong message.
Then came the buzzer-beater deal, trading fifth-year defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes. A move that could be classified as an unsurprising surprise. The New York Rangers decided that giving up an important roster player in exchange for the Canes’ 2020 late first-rounder was worth the gamble.
It was difficult to make sense of at first, but I began to look a bit closer at this situation. There are several hefty contracts anchoring Gorton’s flexibility and Skjei’s six-year $5.25M Average Annual value, through 2024 was one of them. Yes, he is a younger ‘vet’ turning only 26 next month.
Unfortunately for Skjei, he played a replaceable role on a team strapped for cap space with guys like Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast, and Ryan Strome all in need of new deals, each of whom brings a more unique role to the team. With Skjei completely off the books, those players can, if Gorton should want to, be resigned.