Dealing Carl Hagelin gives Rangers cap flexibility


SUNRISE, Fla. -- First of all, WOW!

A bit of a shocker from the New York Rangers, dealing one of their most potent offensive weapons, Carl Hagelin, and a pair of draft picks (59th and 179th) to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Emerson Etem and the 41st overall pick -- which the Blueshirts used to draft Ryan Gropp.

It's no secret this deal has a strong financial component, with the Rangers needing to free up salary-cap space and anticipating what was to come in terms of a new deal for Hagelin, a restricted free agent. Hagelin would be due a significant pay raise, likely in the range of $4 million annually, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next season.

In swapping him for Etem, you gain size -- Etem is 6-foot-1, 212 pounds -- without compromising too much speed. Though Hagelin is one of the fastest players in the league, Etem is a very strong skater in his own right and, in tandem with power forward Chris Kreider, could fill an important role in coach Alain Vigneault's uptempo, quick-skating style of play. However, there have been some hiccups to Etem's development -- he was scratched during the playoffs -- and he does not kill penalties like Hagelin.

The Ducks get a darn good player who will make an immediate impact, while the Rangers add a young player with potential, albeit one who has battled inconsistencies, at a cheaper price. Getting a pick back also helps soften the blow, considering the Rangers have sacrificed first-rounders in both 2015 and 2016 to pull off big trades the past two trade deadlines.

The Rangers continued to stockpile picks on Saturday, trading backup goaltender Cam Talbot to Edmonton for a trio of picks, one of which they then dealt to Washington to yield another pair. New York is clearly trying to replenish some of its depleted system, while sending Hagelin to Anaheim may also provide some flexibility to make some other important moves this summer.