Rangers GM Jeff Gorton held a conference call with the media on Monday to discuss the moves made at the trade deadline:
- On the McDonagh/Miller deal, "It hit on a lot of things that we wanted to accomplish, acquiring some picks, some high picks, getting some young players that we have really liked for a while. The ability to get Howden and Hajak and Namestnikov is a player that we have liked for a while. It hit on a lot of things that we wanted to do as we move forward is probably the best answer."
- On Namestnikov at C/W, "we like him at center, I like the fact that he can do both. Spooner has that too. The versatility is appealing but based upon where we are right now, looking at him at center is something we would look to do."
- On trading McDonagh, "it's a very difficult thing to do, it's a player that we view as a really special Ranger, captain of our team, here for a lot of good times, played a lot of good hockey for us. A special person off the ice, involved with charity and great family, a player we traded for and, if you think back, it was a time when things started to change in the right direction for us. He represents a lot of that, at the same time it's exciting for us. We are doing something, going young, getting a lot of assets and there is a lot of opportunity for players as we move forward. Difficult. JT has been a good player for us too so I don't want to undercut him, in particular we made a big trade for him years ago, turned out to be a really terrific trade for us. Very good player, very good person and very emotional to see him go."
- On finally making the moves, "it feels different as far as, we have had a lot of players leave in a short period of time. When we sat down with our plan and went through what we wanted to do and started talking to teams about where we were headed and what we wanted to accomplish, you start to get a feeling that this is going to happen. This deal, today, it was right before the deadline when it really happened. You don't know if these things are going to go through, where it's gonna go. We were happy going to the summer with Ryan if that was what was going to happen. Just trying to take it all in now, we have a lot of new players, a lot of new faces and like I said, we are looking forward to the opportunity as we go forward."
- Is there more work to be done, "yes. 100%. There is a lot of work here, that is pretty obvious. We are trying to build a team, we are adding these assets and doing all of these things but there is a lot of work to be done, a lot of players we need to go out and watch, find out what is going on in the draft, free agency. There is a lot of opportunity to grow as a team and make our team better. That is our goal, that is our mission and what we are going to do and I feel that we are just starting."
- On building at center, "I think so, if you look at successful teams, building up the middle and back end is important.. We are reasonably confident about our future in goal, we have some nice young players there. Comfortable there with how it's going. To improve our defense and improve at center and get some young guys in here, it was important at those positions."
- How long have you been working on a McDonagh trade, "I would say for a couple of weeks we have been talking to teams about Ryan, we asked him for his teams and then a number of teams got involved and we did the work and went through these teams and assets and players and picks and tried to find the best case scenario was for us and that is how it played out."
- How close are Hajek and Howden you picked up, "that was an appealing part of those two players, they played in World Juniors, a year further out of their draft. That was appealing in this deal. I don't really know what our team is going to look like but there is opportunity for them to come in and show well and stay, if that is the case. We are not going to rush players just because we have new players doesn't mean we are going to rush them in. We don't feel that pressure. We will see where they are, it's a long way before we see them here."
- On three first round picks this year, "we have to look at both scenarios. We are trying to get a certain age level and guys that fit in with what we are doing. We will look at different positions and see what is available, I'm sure that when you have three first round picks and you are on the draft floor there is opportunity. We found that last year as we made that deal, having those picks, there was a lot more chatter at our table than there had been without the picks. There will be a lot of opportunities for the Rangers to do either or, having three picks is really exciting for everybody."
- On trading Ryan Graves, "Bigras is a player we have liked for a while, going back to the draft. You see a lot of these trades now where guys are in an organization for a while and they are hoping for better opportunity. That is where we got with Ryan Graves and I think that is where they were with Bigras. I think we find two players and can give them a fresh start. We do like him as a player and liked him for a while, maybe he gets an opportunity. we will see.
Gorton spoke with the team's website and said (NYR):
- "we've had a big week here where we made a lot of trades with a rebuild in mind, getting younger, character, skaters, some draft picks. Create an opportunity to bring youth to the organization to build this thing as we go forward.
- How hard was it to make some of these moves, "it's very difficult when you talk about the people traded from the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and JT MIller and Holden, all great guys, great families, all guys that did things off the ice. It's difficult but it's necessary for what we want to do and where we want to go and I think all the players know that and understand it and we were able to move them all to good teams that have chances to win and we wish them nothing but the best. Ryan in particular, our captain, very difficult, special guy. It's always tough."
- On the rest of the season, "I would expect, there is plenty of opportunity for guys to step up and show they are NHL players. We have a lot of young players in the lineup, defensemen, our back up goalie, some forwards, new players in Spooner and Namestnikov. For guys that have been here, they need to cement their place here and show they want to be part of it. For the young players they need to prove they belong in the league and we should look at them for next year. We are going to look at everything that makes us better and we expect plenty of opportunity for the draft and all different avenues to increase our talent pool."
- On Brett Howden, "he's a center we have coveted for a while, big guy, rangy, good skater, we like his upside and skill and also his character. We like that he plays against better players and can check and do a lot of different things. Real good person. We are really happy with him and his ability and his future."
- On Libor Hajek, "he is a defenseman we have liked for a long time, going back to the draft, even after the draft he has really come into his own as a player. He has an offensive side, has defensive side, physical player, he can skate. He plays the way the game is played today. Character guy, top shape, condition, good size."
- On Namestnikov, "we talked about his versatility that will help us and a good player. He gets points, been in the league for a while and there is a lot of different things he can do."
- On the picks, "the first round picks and the possibility of another first round pick is exciting for the future and a good opportunity for us to get younger and better as we rebuild."
- What is the message to the fans, "we have had great feedback and support from our fans and they let us know how they feel and they are in full support of what we are doing and what we want to do. The biggest common denominator with our fans is that they want to win too. They have spoken loud and clear since we wrote that letter and that is what we are trying to do and it's what it's all about. Our goal is to win and we are happy to say that our fans are behind us."