Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton made some calls and took some calls. But as he approached the NHL’s 3 p.m. trade deadline Monday, he decided the best play for his young-and-still-developing team was to do nothing.
"I think it’s clear that we have a plan in place, and nothing that came along was going to add to what we wanted to do and was something we felt was going to help us short term or long term,’’ Gorton said in a Zoom call with reporters after the deadline passed.
So even after Boston traded for Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar late Sunday night, Gorton decided it wasn’t worth it for him to add a veteran piece or two as the Rangers try to close the gap on the Bruins in the race for the playoffs.
Boston holds a four-point lead over the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. The Bruins also have two games in hand.
Gorton said the Rangers decided not to bring in a rental-type player who might upgrade the roster slightly while taking ice time away from some of the young players.
The Rangers are 19-16-6. Asked to assess how he feels about their progress this season, Gorton said he is happy with what team has done.
"A lot of times when you ask that question, it just depends on the timing,’’ he said. "I think, based on the two games we just played the Islanders [Friday and Sunday], I’m really happy with the way things are going.
"The young kids are — you’re seeing the strides they’re making, you’re seeing the opportunities they’re getting. And it’s hard not to feel good about the future and where we’re headed.’’
Gorton declined to address a report that the team is close to signing 19-year-old defenseman Zac Jones, the team’s third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, who helped UMass win the NCAA championship on Saturday.
"I’m not prepared to talk about that,’’ he said. "If and when Zac signs as a Ranger, I’d be more than happy to talk to you about the signing.’’
He also said he doesn’t think the Rangers will be able to bring another prospect defenseman, 2018 first-rounder Nils Lundkvist, over from Sweden after the Swedish Hockey League playoffs are concluded.
"He’s had a great year. He’s had a great career over there,’’ Gorton said of Lundkvist, 20. "The way it works in Europe is it’s difficult to get top players over here at the end of the season because of the World Championships. We’re pretty certain that he’s going to be part of that mix [for Sweden], so I think our focus is when he comes over, it’ll be for next season.’’
Lundkvist’s Lulea team evened its playoff series with Skelleftea with a 3-2 win in Game 2 Monday.
Forwards Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider did not practice Monday, and the team said they got the day off for "maintenance.’’ Panarin was seen on camera in Sunday’s game putting a heat pack on his back while on the bench . . . Coach David Quinn said he had not decided whether Igor Shesterkin or Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal against the Devils in Newark on Tuesday .