As the 3pm deadline approached, Glen Sather waited out his old buddy Brian Burke. The Toronto GM was quoted as saying he wanted a first round draft pick for winger Nik Antropov. As the clock wound down, he ended up trading him to the Rangers for a second round draft pick and a conditional draft pick.

Antropov (6-6/230) is a 29-year-old former Maple Leafs 1990 first round draft pick (10th overall). While he fits John Tortorella’s wish to add size, Antropov is known for his finesse game as opposed to his physical game. In 63 games this season, he has 21 goals and 25 assists with 6 power play goals and 24 PIM. If you are a big believer in plus/minus stats (which I am not), one concern is his minus-13 rating. However, for his career Antropov is a plus-54 in 509 games – to go along with 125 goals and 166 assists with 27 power play goals and 477 PIM.

The newest Ranger forward set career highs in goals (26), assists (30) and power play goals (12).

Here is Antropov’s scouting report from TheStar.com:

ASSETS: Can line up at all three forward positions. Plays with poise and patience. Owns good vision and two-way smarts. Works hard and has impressive size and reach.
FLAWS: Is so big that he could still stand to play more of a power game at the NHL level for a greater impact. Is prone to mental lapses on the ice. Lacks natural goal-scoring ability.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top six forward.

With the deadline looming, Sather then turned to his former assistant Don Maloney in an attempt to revive the Rangers moribund power play. The Blueshirts acquired defenseman Derek Morris for Dmitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha. Sather had to pay a heavy price for Morris because his newest defenseman carries a $3.95 million contract. The only positive is that Morris is an UFA at the end of the season – the same as Kalinin and Prucha. Dawes will be a RFA.

In addition to the Maloney connection with the Coyotes, the Rangers have a Phoenix connection in their front office as well. Mike Barnett, former GM of the Coyotes, is an advisor to Sather.

In 57 games with Phoenix, Morris has 5 goals and 7 assists with 24 PIM, a minus-13. The biggest knock on Morris is that he is coming to New York to revive the Rangers power play; however, he has exactly zero power play goals this year.

The 30-year-old Morris (6-0/220) has scored 35 of his 76 NHL goals on the power play. He also has 256 assists, 778 PIM and is a minus-27 for his career. Morris’s 2002/2003 season was his career best with 11 goals (9 PPG) and 37 assists with a career best plus-16 rating.

ASSETS: Possesses a well-rounded package of top-level skills, specifically an excellent skating stride and booming shot from the point. Is very strong and aggressive along the blueline.
FLAWS: Has a tendency to lose his concentration in the defensive zone and give the puck away at the most inopportune moments. Must learn to better harness his aggressive nature.
CAREER POTENTIAL: No. 2 defenseman.

Yes at first look it seems that the Rangers gave up too much for Morris, but when you look at it, the trade was really Dawes for Morris. Kalinin is a wash because Morris replaces him in the lineup and was going to be kicked to the curb as a free agent. Prucha is a tough loss, but he is in the same situation as Kalinin in that the Rangers are not going to re-sign him. Dawes’s inclusion is the reason why Phoenix even bothered to make the trade – even though he will be a RFA at the end of the season.

With Antropov and Sean Avery added to the lineup, the Rangers had to make room among the forwards – hence dealing off Dawes and Prucha. The problem I have is that Morris is living off his 2002/2003 season. It is a stretch to think he is going to help the power play much – there is a reason why his only power play point is a lone assist. I would rather have seen Sather go after Cam Barker, but it would have cost far more (Bobby Sanguinetti and/or a draft pick added to the package) and Barker makes nearly $3 million. I would even have preferred Jordan Leopold (who still has an upside compared to Morris) or Steve Montador who would have added a physical presence and a shot-blocker.

As for the Antropov trade, as long as the conditional draft pick is in the range of what the Pittsburgh Penguins gave up for Bill Guerin, then it was worth a shot given the fact that Slats still has an extremely inconsistent draft record – recent success notwithstanding.

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