Rangers Rumors & News
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Larry Brooks reports in yesterday’s Post that prior to agreeing to the swap of Jason Ward, Sean Avery, and assorted prospects, “two weeks ago LA GM Dean Lombardi offered to send Avery, veteran defenseman Mattias Norstrom and veteran center Craig Conroy to Broadway in exchange for 20-year-old defenseman Marc Staal, who by acclamation is considered the organization’s brightest prospect.” Staal is the brother of Penguins rookie Jordan, and Hurricane’s superstar Eric.

It’s shocking and encouraging that the usually short-sighted Rangers organization did not immediately agree to such a trade – a move that would have plugged nearly every hole on this current Rangers squad while trading away a cornerstone for the franchise for a decade to come.

Rangers fans will remember Norstrom well. The 6-2, 222 lb Swede was drafted by the Rangers in the second round of the 1992 NHL draft, only to be traded as a prospect in ’96 along with Ray Ferraro, Nathan LaFayette, Ian Laperriere, and a 4th round pick. The Rangers acquired the aging and ineffective Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley, and Shane Churla in that deal. Norstrom quickly developed into one of the best defenseman in the league – the sort of tough, physical, and reliable stay-at-home blueliner that the Rangers have lacked since the days of Jeff Beaukeboom and Kevin Lowe. When Los Angeles traded future Hall of Famer and team captain Rob Blake in 2001, Norstrom was given the captaincy, and since then has established a franchise record for playing in more games than any other defenseman in Kings’ history, surpassing the mark set by Blake. While some might view the reacquisition of Norstrom as an overdue correction of the organization’s mistake, dealing away another promising young defenseman in Norstrom’s ilk in exchange for the now 35-year-old player would be the same sort of error that cost the Rangers’ Norstrom in the first place.

Likewise, the 6-2, 197 lb Craig Conroy would have slotted in perfectly at the 2nd-line center spot alongside Brendan Shanahan, however at age 35, there is only so much hockey ahead of him. Conroy was eventually traded to Calgary in exchange for former-Ranger Jamie Lundmark and two draft picks.

Score one for Glen Sather, who managed to acquire the youngest of the trio (the 26-year-old Avery) without taking on additional veterans, and without surrendering prospects of any immediate promise.

Sather tells the Post, “We’ve gotten some very interesting proposals from teams looking to pick off our best young guys. It would be insanity to do something like that.”

Moreover, the GM went a step further, acknowledging that the Rangers could forfeit the remainder of the year and dump some veterans in exchange for young talent if the Rangers drop out of the playoff race before the February 27th trade deadline. Which isn’t to say that Sather wouldn’t consider such a trade even now if the offer were right.

“I’ll tell you what, if Pittsburgh called and offered us [Sidney] Crosby tomorrow, I’d even throw in my left [testicle].”

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