SUNRISE, Fla. - After the dust settled this weekend at the NHL Draft, the question had to be asked:
Did the Rangers improve?
Financially, and perhaps in the future, yes. On the ice starting in October? We'll see.
After a quiet first round on Friday in which the Rangers could not land a first-round pick or several second-rounders for backup goaltender Cam Talbot despite negotiations with the Oilers, Sabres, Flames, Panthers, Sharks and Stars, they moved quickly Saturday in the second round.
In an unexpected exchange, the cap-strapped Blueshirts shipped speedy forward Carl Hagelin and the 59th and 179th picks to the Ducks for forward Emerson Etem and the 41st pick. Then the Rangers dealt Talbot -- who was 16-4-3 while Henrik Lundqvist recovered from a vascular injury after being struck by a shot on Jan. 31 -- to the Oilers for three picks, with only one second-rounder in the mix.
The swap of left wingers, both restricted free agents, was heavily dollar-driven. Hagelin, 27, who is arbitration-eligible and could have commanded more than $3.5 million, could be unrestricted next June unless he is re-signed by the Ducks. In four seasons with the Rangers, he totaled 58 goals and 130 points in 266 games. He scored seven goals in 25 games in the 2014 playoffs but had only two goals in 19 games in the 2015 playoffs.
"This is a tough day because Hags has been a great Ranger. He's a terrific guy. He really fit our team well," assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said.
"It's a nature-of-the-beast thing. His contract is up and we have a number of players we have to fit in [referring to restricted free agents Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast]. We looked around and thought if we had to move him, we picked out five or six different scenarios. If we could get younger and get somebody with some upside and with a chance to be an impact player, we would have to do it. Etem was one of those players."
Etem, 23, who was born in Long Beach, California, is not arbitration-eligible and earned $870,000 last season. The 29th overall pick in 2010, he has size at 6-1, 212 pounds. He had 10 points in 45 games in a limited role last season and scored three goals in 12 playoff games but also was a scratch in four playoff games.
"As far as his skating, he backs up the D really well," Gorton said. "He has a history of scoring in junior; he has a physical aspect to his game. He's got a chance to be a top-nine forward for us right away. He's a guy we liked going all the way back to the  draft."
The return on Talbot, 27, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, clearly was not what the Rangers sought. The market for available goaltenders decreased after several trades around the league Friday and Saturday. Talbot was sent to the Oilers with a seventh-round pick in exchange for the 57th, 79th and 184th picks.
"At times, it looked like it might have been a better deal. It didn't manufacture that way," Gorton said. "In any scenario, we would have liked more. We tried to push to get more, but I think we did OK . . . We were dealing with five or six teams in the last couple weeks, and at times it got more heated than others.
"A couple goalies got traded and it shifted. Things change all the time, and it changed a lot this week. When you go back to teams, sometimes their offer is not on the table the way you remembered."
To replace Talbot, the Rangers traded Ryan Haggerty to Chicago for goaltender Antti Raanta, a 26-year-old Finn who was 20-9-5 with a 2.41 GAA and .912 save percentage in two seasons. His cap charge will be about half of Talbot's $1.4 million.
With the 41st pick from Anaheim, the Rangers took Ryan Gropp, a 6-2 left wing who was 30-28-58 in 67 games for Seattle of the Western Hockey League last season. The Rangers also drafted four forwards, a defenseman and a goaltender.
"We feel like we had a really good backup goalie, but with him becoming a free agent and we haven't had many picks lately, it was something we felt like we had to do," Gorton said. "We had to make an evaluation on where we were with Etem and where we were with contract negotiations with Carl. We looked at everything."