The Rangers are in the midst of a rebuild, but their latest move already has them trending in the right direction.
New York struck a deal with the Jets to acquire D Jacob Trouba in exchange for Neal Pionk and the No. 20 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on Monday. Many believe the Rangers got a steal in this trade, acquiring a 25-year-old two-way defender that is one of the best in the league.
Getting Trouba onto their roster is just another positive step for the Rangers, who are impressing NBC Sports' NHL analyst Pierre McGuire.
"The Rangers' rebuild really took a huge step forward I think, one, when the lottery came out and they finished second because they were getting either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko," McGuire explained to SNY. "Both of them are great players. Secondly, how they accumulated draft picks and they were really wise in how they accumulated draft picks. And the third thing is being able to acquire Jacob Trouba helps them a ton. So I look at the Rangers really speeding up the development of their team."
Trouba helps that development tremendously, coming to the Rangers off a breakout season in Winnepeg. He tallied 50 points (eight goals, 42 assists) in 22:53 minutes of ice time per night over a full 82-game season.
"He's a top one or two guy in the league in terms of where he fits on a roster," McGuire said. "He can handle huge minutes in a shutdown role. He had 50 points last year, so he obviously can get points. He can shoot the puck. He's a physical, robust, nasty piece of business. And I think he's going to be very comfortable playing there."
McGuire added that the Rangers' coaching staff is only going to tap into Trouba's potential even more when he gets there. Head coach David Quinn as well as Greg Brown and Lindy Ruff were all defensemen, which should aid Trouba in the long run.
Who should he be paired up with? McGuire has a perfect complement in mind.
"It'll be interesting to see who they play him with. My heart of hearts, I see him playing with Brady Skjei," he said. "I say that would be an amazing tandem with Skjei's skating ability and Trouba's physicality. I just think that would be an awesome tandem."
Not only have the Rangers brought in an above-average defenseman, but as McGuire mentioned above, New York will be getting one of the top two prospects in this year's Draft. Hughes is expected to go to the Devils first overall, which leaves Kakko for the Blueshirts to grab at No. 2.
Kakko would replace the hole left by Kevin Hayes signing long-term with the Flyers, and McGuire noted his respect for his game as an aggressive finisher on the offensive side of the puck.
In the end, all of these pieces will speed up the Rangers' rebuild with the hopes of making them a playoff team sooner rather than later. It may not be this season, but McGuire warns the other teams in the NHL not to sleep on the Rangers.
They could be a big surprise.
"I think the Rangers - again, I can't stress this enough - I told this to a friend of mine who's a coach in the league: be careful of the Rangers," he said. "I think they're trending in the right direction."