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Rangers trade longtime alternate captain Marc Staal to Red Wings

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal skates against the Bruins

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal skates against the Bruins during the third period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Rangers have many personnel decisions to make this season. They got things started Saturday night with a surprise trade that sent longtime Blueshirt Marc Staal to the Detroit Red Wings in a deal that clears up significant space under the salary cap, as well as potentially opening up a roster spot for 2018 first-round pick K’Andre Miller.

Staal, 33, was sent, along with a second-round draft pick in 2021 to the Red Wings in exchange for future considerations. The 6-4, 209-pound defenseman, a Thunder Bay, Ontario, native and the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2005, had a full no-move clause, so he had to agree to waive that clause in order to make the deal happen.

The move clears $5.7 million under the salary cap for the Rangers, and opens a spot at left defense, potentially, for Miller, who was excellent in the Rangers’ training camp in July prior to the NHL restart. The Rangers are currently $20.9 million under the salary cap, according to CapFriendly.

With the move, the still-rebuilding Rangers, who have the first pick overall in the 2020 draft, which is set to take place Oct. 6-7, gain some financial flexibility, which should allow them to pay the restricted free agents they are going to have to sign this offseason, including defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who was Staal’s defense partner for most of the last two seasons.

It also potentially relieves the pressure to have to get rid of franchise icon Henrik Lundqvist, who also is entering the final year of his contract, and carrying a cap hit of $8.5 million. The Rangers are expected to buy out Lundqvist, and re-sign RFA goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. But after clearing Staal’s contract from their books, it is possible they might now be able to consider moving Georgiev instead and keeping Lundqvist as a backup goalie and mentor to Igor Shesterkin.

Staal, who is entering the final year of his contract, played 13 seasons for the Rangers, playing in 892 games, with 43 goals and 145 assists (188 points) and 432 penalty minutes. He was sixth on the franchise’s all-time games played list. He played in 52 games for the Rangers in 2019-20, scoring two goals, with nine assists for 11 points, plus 16 penalty minutes. He played in all 3 playoff games during the Rangers’ qualifying series against the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring one goal.

"Marc Staal has been an exemplary hockey player, teammate, and person from the moment he joined the Rangers organization,’’ Rangers president John Davidson said in the press release announcing the trade. "A consummate professional, Marc’s perseverance and dedication to the game made him such an integral part of our organization.’’

"I would like to thank Marc for everything he has given to the New York Rangers during his 13 seasons with the team,’’ Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. "The success we had throughout Marc’s tenure, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, would not have been possible without his tireless efforts on and off the ice. The respect we have for Marc is immeasurable, and we wish him and his family all the best.’’

Staal was an alternate captain for the Rangers for 10 seasons and during his time with the team, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, and made it to two other Eastern Conference finals.

He played 107 career playoff games with the Rangers, third-most in franchise history behind Lundqvist (130) and Dan Girardi (122).

New York Sports