Rangers trade Skjei to Hurricanes

In a move that was just finalized, the Rangers traded defenseman Brady Skjei to the Hurricanes for a first round pick.

I know he had his issues with consistency. But my first reaction is I don’t like this deal. Why break up the chemistry this team has? Sure. They found a way to free up cap space by unloading Skjei’s contract. So, it was probably a necessary means to an end for the Rangers.

By unloading Skjei’s cap hit of $5.4 million, that should give the team the space to re-sign Tony DeAngelo. He’s having a career year with 45 points (13-32-45). Plus he’s arbitration eligible as is key second line center Ryan Strome, who is third in team scoring with a career high 55 (16-39-55) points. Add it up and they could wind up with $10 million combined.

The encouraging news is they should be able to fit them in. My question is what happens with the defense. Even if you’re not a big fan of Skjei, he logged important minutes along with Jacob Trouba. He had decent offensive numbers with eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points while recording 91 blocked shots and 99 hits in 60 contests.

My guess is they’re going to rely heavily on Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox. They’ve proven to be the best D pair. I don’t think breaking them up makes much sense. Who plays with Trouba? Is it DeAngelo, who can slide over to the left side? But he has good chemistry with veteran Marc Staal.

They really are going to use Brendan Smith in the top six? Some other move must be coming from Hartford. It’s definitely interesting. I wouldn’t have pulled the plug yet on Skjei due to key prospects K’Andre Miller and Matthew Robertson not being ready. Are they really sure about Libor Hajek? He hasn’t even been the best defenseman in Hartford.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the organization decides in terms of how to replace Skjei’s minutes. At 25, he still has upside. A good skater with some untapped potential, maybe the scenery change to Carolina will work. He has more to give. Under Rod Brind’Amour, it should be interesting to follow. Best of luck to him.

As for what they got back, anytime you can get a first round pick back and free up room, that’s good. I can’t criticize the return. I’m just wondering how the blueline will look the rest of the season.

Here’s the other question I don’t totally understand. What the heck is Carolina doing in regards to their roster and cap space? They also acquired Vincent Trocheck from the Panthers.

Oh well. Not for us to concern ourselves over. Overall, a good day for the Rangers. We’ll see what the final 21 games brings. The fun begins tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum versus the Islanders. What could be better? Two teams battling for the playoffs. Too bad it’s the final regular season meeting.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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