Rangers coach David Quinn called Monday’s NHL trade deadline “a difficult day for every team in the National Hockey League,’’ and the coach went on at length about just how difficult it was for his team to come to grips with the fact that defenseman Brady Skjei had been traded away, sent to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick.
“Sad day,’’ Quinn said when asked about Skjei, before the Rangers beat the Islanders, 4-3, in overtime. “It’s never easy to see a guy go that you have an awful lot of respect for, a guy that’s done a really good job for us. There’s probably not a more likable guy on our team. An emotional day for a lot of people, not only the players, but the coaches and everybody associated with our organization.
“But we all know this is a business and there’s only so much money to go around,’’ he said. “And it was not an easy day.’’
Trading Skjei, 25, opened some room under the salary cap to accommodate the signing of Chris Kreider Monday. Kreider inked a seven-year deal for an average annual value of $6.5 million.
Skjei signed a six-year deal before last season that carried an AAV of $5.25 million, and the Rangers are going to need room to re-sign some of their restricted free agents who are in line for big raises, like defenseman Tony DeAngelo and forward Ryan Strome.
Brendan Smith, a defenseman who has played forward for most of the season, but who played defense last week for two games when DeAngelo sat out with a shoulder injury, took Skjei’s place in the lineup and played with Skjei’s old partner, Jacob Trouba.
“Smitty played two real good games when he stepped in last week,’’ Quinn said. “Obviously, he’s played a lot of forward this year, but by trade, he’s a defenseman, and he gets to play defense for a while.’’
Smith played 18:25 and had an assist on Brett Howden’s third-period goal that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead. The goal initially had been credited to Smith, but was changed after the game.
McKegg back in lineup
Greg McKegg returned to the lineup, with Pavel Buchnevich out . . . Tuesday was the 41st anniversary of the Denis Potvin hit on Ulf Nilsson, that broke Nilsson’s ankle and inspired the “Potvin sucks’’ chant that Rangers fans still shout at games today . . . Wednesday is Trouba’s 26th birthday.