5 Best NY Rangers Deadline Day Deals of the Past 20 Years

Andrew CapitelliContributor IMarch 21, 2013

5 Best NY Rangers Deadline Day Deals of the Past 20 Years

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    As the April 3 trade deadline looms, NHL clubs in a position to challenge for a playoff spot will look to bolster their lineup as they head into the stretch run.

    Throughout history, we've seen players added to clubs at the deadline who eventually become playoff heroes for their new teams. Butch Goring is probably the best example of such a case.

    Currently the NY Rangers are riddled with question marks, and many fans and experts would agree a change could shake things up. But with so many teams still in the running for a playoff position, it'll be difficult for the Rangers, or any team for that matter, to find their Goring in 2013.

    It's no secret the Rangers' last 20 years have been a roller coaster ride; there's a been a Stanley Cup, seven seasons without a playoff appearance and a recent resurgence, and over that time we've seen some infamous deadline deals and some real busts.

    Today we'll take a look at the Rangers' five best deadline day moves of the past 20 years.

    Note: These are deadline day deals. Any deal done before the deadline day in a single season will not be considered.

5. Sandis Ozolinsh

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    2005-06 was a special year for the NY Rangers. 

    Jaromir Jagr broke the single-season goals and points records for the franchise and his performance led the Rangers into the playoffs for the first time since 1996-97.

    That was a great team, but the one thing they were missing was a true puck-moving defenseman. 

    A day before the deadline, Glen Sather sent forward Ville Nieminen to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a third-round draft pick. The next day Sather sent that pick back to Anaheim for Sandis Ozolinsh.

    Ozolinsh went on to play 19 regular-season games for the Rangers in 2005-06. He registered three goals and 14 points in those 19 games. 

    I know this trade may not be the most popular of moves for some fans—and even the coach at the time, Tom Renney, who benched Ozolinsh for the final game of the playoffs, citing defensive shortcomings—but I think this was a good trade. Ozolinsh-for-Nieminen is a no-brainer, and maybe if Renney had used him differently things would have gone better.

    In the end, the deal was a bargain. Ozolinsh filled a need for this club and he produced. He helped the Rangers fend off a number of teams knocking at the door late in the season. 

4. Nik Antropov

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    2008-09 was the first season the Rangers played without Jaromir Jagr, who was the team's primary source of offense for three-and-a-half seasons.

    Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund were relied upon for offense in the subsequent season, but their collective inconsistency led to the eventual firing of head coach Tom Renney. 

    In hopes of adding more scoring, Sather acquired Nik Antropov from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a second-round pick and a conditional draft pick.

    In 18 games, he scored seven times and added six helpers. His performance was vital, and without him the Rangers may have missed the playoffs.

    The Rangers were eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals in seven games, but the team put forth a gutsy effort, and Antropov's three points and solid play did not go unnoticed. 

3. Criag MacTavish

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    Craig MacTavish, widely remembered by NHL fans as the last guy to not wear a helmet, and by Rangers fans as the guy who took the most important faceoff in franchise history, was acquired by Neil Smith from the Edmonton Oilers on March 21, 1994 in exchange for Todd Marchant.

    He joined a host of other former Oilers—Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Kevin Lowe, among others—in their quest to end the Rangers' 54-year playoff drought.

    A hard-nosed checking center, MacTavish scored six points in 12 regular-season games for the Rangers in 1994, and added another five points in 23 playoff games.

    His experience playing on three of the five Edmonton Cup teams was what Smith was looking to add at the deadline, and he was willing to give up young talent like Marchant to obtain it. 

2. Glenn Anderson

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    Glenn Anderson was another one of those experienced Edmonton guys Neil Smith was dying to acquire at the deadline in 1994.

    He was part of all five Oilers' Cup teams, and Smith was willing to give up one of the team's leading scorers and future Hall of Famer Mike Gartner to yet again add the invaluable experience of a guy like Anderson to the team. 

    Toronto also added the rights to Scott Malone and a fourth-round pick to the deal.

    Anderson, who was also a future Hall of Famer, played on the Rangers' top line in the playoffs alongside longtime friend and teammate Mark Messier and Adam Graves.

    Despite only scoring six points in 23 playoff games, Anderson was a facilitator for that top line, and his aggressiveness gave it another dimension. He also scored a huge goal in the finals and was a vital piece of the Cup-winning team. 

1. Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan

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    Stephane Matteau was a solid hockey player, but in truth, he could have done nothing else but score the biggest goal in the franchise's history to be considered the Rangers' best deadline day move of not only the past 20 years, but of all time.

    The transaction, which also went down on March 21, 1994, saw the Rangers trade one of their top young players, Tony Amonte, and the rights to Matt Oates to the Chicago Blackhawks for Matteau and Brian Noonan.

    Although Amonte would go on to be a star for Chicago, Matteau and Noonan's contributions have changed the lives of Rangers fans around the world.

    Matteau will always be remembered more fondly than Noonan, but the latter's contributions cannot go unmentioned. His four goals and 11 points in the playoffs were valuable bottom-six contributions that any team would love to have. 

    Matteau had a total of six playoff goals in 1994, but there's none more memorable or important than the one he scored on May 27, 1994, that will forever immortalize him in Rangers history. 

    Naturally, there was no deadline day deal the Rangers have made in the past 20 years more important than this one.