Neil Smith — the general manager that built New York’s 1994 Stanley Cup-winning team — said the current Rangers shouldn’t make a deadline deal for Columbus captain Rick Nash.
He also doesn’t think the Blue Jackets should be trading him.
“I wouldn’t trade for a huge player at this point when you’re sitting where the Rangers are,” Smith told the New York Daily News. “I wouldn’t trade Rick Nash if I was in Columbus. And the reason is, those [top-tier] guys, you only get a shot at those kind of guys once in a decade, if that.”
Smith is still working with the Rangers organization as the president and GM of their ECHL affiliate in Greenville. In addition to being familiar with the organization, Smith is familiar with swinging big at the deadline as he made five trades prior to the 1994 trade deadline:
— Todd Marchant to Edmonton for Craig MacTavish
— Mike Gartner to Toronto for Glenn Anderson, Scott Malone and a fourth-round pick
— Tony Amonte and Matt Oates to Chicago for Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan
— Phil Bourque to Ottawa for future considerations
— Peter Andersson to Florida for a ninth-round pick
As you can see, these were no small deals (Fun fact: Smith made all five deals on deadline day.)
Gartner was the team’s second-leading goalscorer that season while Marchant (20 years old at the time) and Amonte (23) were good young prospects — but the players netted in return were absolutely crucial to New York’s success. Noonan ended up being the Rangers’ fifth-leading playoff scorer, Anderson and MacTavish provided invaluable experience and Matteau scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history:
In light of this, it’s funny to hear Smith telling the Rangers to stand pat — though he did state that, with MVP candidate and All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist turning 30, the time to win might be now.
“You’ve got to calculate all those different factors when you’re thinking about when is the right time to go for it — you always go for it — but when you would risk more than other years,” Smith said. “I think because of Lundqvist’s age and where he is in his career this late, it’s a time when they want to try to think that they’ve got a chance to do it now rather than wait.”