Thank you John Davidson. The New York Rangers have acquired defenseman Christian Backman from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a fourth round draft pick. Backman is not the physical defenseman the Rangers need, but he does add offensive depth on the blue line without costing the Rangers any of their prospects. Backman has a history of injury problems. Since January 2008, he has missed 21 games with a knee injury and recently a left foot injury. In 2005/06, he missed time with a left foot injury.

Backman was a teammate of Henrik Lundqvist during the lockout and on Sweden’s 2006 gold medal winning Olympic Hockey Team. Backman is 27-years-old and is 6-foot-4 and 206 pounds. In 45 games this season, he has 1 goal and 9 assists with 30 PIM. He has played 228 career NHL games and has scored 19 goals and 45 assists with 130 PIM. He was the Blues 1998 first round draft pick (24th overall).

Is the best trade the Rangers could have made? Absolutely not, but considering what they traded it isn’t all that bad. There was no reason for Glen Sather to overpay for a rental player. Reports indicate that Backman has one more year left on his contract at $2.4 million – not all that bad of a cap hit – and it is within reason where the Rangers could move him next season if they so choose.

As some expected the day Don Maloney went to Phoenix, the Rangers have traded goaltender Al Montoya and left winger Marcel Hossa to the Coyotes in exchange for winger Fredrik Sjostrom, goaltender David LeNeveau and left winger Josh Gratton. This trade is a case of Sather moving two players who could be RFAs for some young talent. While Hossa would not be a big free agent loss, the Rangers could have run into problems keeping Montoya. The Blueshirts could face another team offering Montoya a lucrative offer – leaving the rangers with the option of matching (not likely) or receiving draft pick compensation based on what Montoya’s salary would be. In addition, Montoya had fallen behind Finnish netminder Miika Wiikman so one has to wonder if he had fallen out of favor with Rangers management.

The 6-foot-1 and 217 pound Sjostrom can play both wings and came from the same Swedish team as Lundqvist – although the two were not teammates. The 24-year-old was Phoenix’s first round draft pick in 2001 (11th overall). In 51 games this season, he has 10 goals and 19 assists with 14 PIM. I would expect that he will battle for playing time with Ryan Hollweg on the fourth line.

The 6-foot-1 and 187 pound LeNeveu was the Coyotes 2002 second round draft pick in 2002 (46th overall). The 24-year-old turned pro after his sophomore season at Cornell University. With hindsight being 20/20, he would have better off staying in school because Phoenix rushed him to the NHL due to the unsettled nature of their goaltending situation. He has appeared in 6 games this year and is 2-1-0 with a 3.86 GAA and an 894 SV% with Phoenix. He has also played 37 games with their AHL affiliate in San Antonio. He is 13-20-2 with a 2.97 GAA, a 907SV% and 2 shutouts. In his NHL career, he has played in 21 games and is 5-9-2 with a 3.38 GAA and an 888SV%. The one interesting note about LeNeveu is that he has worked with Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire in the past. If Allaire can return LeNeveu back to his collegiate form, he could be the steal of the deal for the Blueshirts.

The 6-foot-2 and 214 pound Gratton provides the Rangers organization with another enforcer – something that is needed given Colton Orr’s “upper body injury” and the fact that minor league tough guys Mitch Fritz and Francis Lessard are out for the season. Once Orr is healthy, Gratton is ticketed for Hartford. The 25-year-old was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2004. In 28 games with the Rampage, Gratton played in 38 games with 5 goals and 9 assists to go along with his 124 PIM. He was teammate of former Rangers draft pick Dylan Reese while in San Antonio. Gratton skated in one game for Phoenix and did not score – although he did pick up 5 PIM. In 87 career NHL games, Gratton scored 2 goals and 1 assist with 237 PIM.

Christian Backman Scouting Report from:
ASSETS: Moves the puck well out of the defensive zone. Has an excellent frame and displays plenty of poise from the back end. Owns intriguing offensive upside.
FLAWS: Must add more strength in order to survive the rigors of the NHL. Once he fills out, he must use his size more so as to keep forwards honest.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top four defenseman.

Fredrik Sjostrom Scouting Report from:
ASSETS: Has a terrific combination of speed, skill and defensive instincts. Is willing to take a hit in order to make a play.
FLAWS: Needs to make better adjustments to the North American game. Is a bit undersized by NHL standards.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top six winger.

David LeNeveau Scouting Report from:
ASSETS: Has an ideal frame for the goaltending position. His combination of first-rate talent and perfect demeanor make him a can’t-miss NHL goalie prospect.
FLAWS: Could stand to add more bulk to his 6-1 frame, so as to better handle the lenghty schedule of the pro game.
CAREER POTENTIAL: No. 1 goaltender.

Josh Gratton Scouting Report from:
ASSETS: Is big, strong and as tough as nails. Can drop the gloves against the very best enforcers in the NHL. Understands his role and is a good teammate.
FLAWS: Doesn’t have the speed or skill required to play a regular shift at the highest level. Has a tendency to get into penalty trouble from time to time.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Fourth line enforcer.

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