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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Michael Grabner isn’t going very far. He may not even have to move.

The New York Rangers traded Grabner across the Hudson River to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night – marking the first-ever deal between the two cross-river rivals – in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and prospect Igor Rykov.

Grabner ranked No. 7 on TSN’s Trade Bait board.

Along with teammate Rick Nash, who is No. 2 behind only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Grabner was held out of Thursday’s matchup with the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution to protect the deal.

Most importantly, Grabner helps set the price for rentals on the trade market.

Grabner was just the second rental player – or pending unrestricted free agent – to be traded so far. He is also the first player to fetch a return higher than a third-round pick.

Grabner, 30, reportedly generated interest from more than 10 teams, with the Devils arriving as one of the late-comers to the party. They stepped up with their own second-round pick, which is projected to be around 47th overall.

Grabner was in the second tier of the scoring left wing rentals behind Nash, Evander Kane and potentially Patrick Maroon. The Rangers, Sabres and Oilers will all be asking for a first-round pick for those players.

Grabner is tied for 17th in the NHL with 25 goals, matching Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. Seven of those 25 goals were empty-netters, while 13 total were scored in the third period of games this season.

That Grabner had speed to burn, penalty-killing expertise, and a minuscule $1.65-million salary cap hit made him an attractive option for teams.

He will help New Jersey, which has a five-point edge on the Eastern Conference’s top wild-card spot, attempt to secure its first Stanley Cup playoff berth in six seasons.

For the Rangers, the ability to snag Rykov – a fifth-round pick of New Jersey in 2016 – helped sway the deal. New York would have kept close tabs on the defenceman Rykov this season on SKA St. Petersburg, the same KHL team as Ilya Kovalchuk and where the heir apparent to King Henrik Lundqvist’s throne, Igor Shestyorkin, tends goal.

The teardown in Manhattan is now in full swing. Grabner and defenceman Nick Holdenare gone. Coach Alain Vigneault said Nash will be held out of Friday night’s game against Minnesota to protect a potential deal.

To be sure, no player is untouchable on the Rangers’ roster. Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who has been tied to the Maple Leafs among others, is now inside the Top 10 of TSN Hockey’s latest Trade Bait board:

 

The Top 45

 
Trend Player Pos Age Cap Hit GP G PTS Years Clause
  1. Erik Karlsson, OTT RD 27 $6.5M 54 5 42 1 M-NTC
  2. Rick Nash, NYR  LW 33 $7.8M 60 18 28 UFA M-NTC
  3. Mike Green, DET RD 32 $6M 57 6 29 UFA NTC
  4. Derick Brassard, OTT C 30 $5M 58 18 36 1 M-NTC
  5. Patrick Maroon, EDM LW 29 $1.5M 57 14 30 UFA  
  6. Evander Kane, BUF LW 26 $5.25M 61 20 40 UFA  
  7. Mark Letestu, EDM C 32 $1.8M 58 8 19 UFA  
  8. Mike Hoffman, OTT LW 28 $5.19M 60 16 39 2 M-NTC
  9. Ryan McDonagh, NYR LD 28 $4.7M 49 2 26 1 M-NTC
Embedded Image 10. Mats Zuccarello, NYR RW 30 $4.5M 60 10 43 1  
  11. Zack Smith, OTT C/LW 29 $3.25M 46 5 17 3 M-NTC
  12. Tomas Plekanec, MTL C 35 $6M 60 6 24 UFA  
  13. Thomas Vanek, VAN LW 33 $2M 60 16 40 UFA  
  14. Max Domi, ARI C/LW 22 $1.36M 60 4 26 RFA  
Embedded Image 15. Jack Johnson, CBJ LD 31 $4.35M 60 3 8 UFA  
  16. Derek Ryan, CAR C 31 $1.45M 58 11 26 UFA  
  17. Max Pacioretty, MTL LW 29 $4.5M 60 16 35 1  
  18. Jeff Skinner, CAR LW 25 $5.73M 60 20 37 1 NMC
  19. Alex Galchenyuk, MTL LW 23 $4.9M 60 12 34 2  
  20. J-G Pageau, OTT C 25 $3.1M 56 8 20 4  
  21. Luke Glendening, DET C 28 $1.8M 48 8 14 3  
Embedded Image 22. Ryan Hartman, CHI RW 23 $863K 55 8 24 RFA  
  23. Boone Jenner, CBJ C 24 $2.9M 53 5 17 RFA  
  24. Andrew Shaw, MTL C/RW 26 $3.9M 43 10 19 4  
  25. Jordan Kyrou, STL C/RW 19 $894K 0 0 0 3 Slide
  26. Robby Fabbri, STL LW 22 $1.1M 0 0 0 RFA  
  27. Johnny Oduya, OTT LD 36 $2M 51 4 8 UFA M-NTC
  28. Gustav Nyquist, DET RW 28 $4.75M 60 16 28 1 NTC
  29. Aaron Dell, SJS G 28 $625K 25 2.71 .912 UFA  
  30. Jon Gillies, CGY G 24 $725K 2 4.35 .815 RFA  
  31. Bobby Ryan, OTT LW 30 $7.25M 40 7 21 4 M-NTC
  32. Matt Hunwick, PIT LD 32 $2.25M 35 3 7 2  
  33. Benoit Pouliot, BUF LW 31 $1.15M 56 11 15 UFA  
  34. Josh Leivo, TOR LW 24 $613K 12 1 3 1  
  35. Tommy Wingels, CHI RW 29 $750K 54 7 12 UFA  
  36. Tomas Tatar, DET LW 27 $5.3M 59 16 27 3  
  37. Blake Comeau, COL RW 31 $2.4M 56 10 22 UFA  
  38. Ben Hutton, VAN LD 24 $2.8M 50 0 6 1  
  39. Matt Cullen, MIN C 41 $1.7M 58 6 15 UFA  
  40. Nic Petan, WPG C 22 $863K 12 1 1 RFA  
  41. Robin Lehner, BUF G 26 $4M 45 2.92 .911 RFA  
  42. Mike Cammalleri, EDM RW 35 $1M 52 5 22 UFA  
  43. Xavier Ouellet, DET LD 24 $1.25M 36 0 4 1  
  44. Danny DeKeyser, DET LD 27 $5M 43 4 7 4 NTC
  45. Tyson Barrie, COL RD 26 $5.5M 46 6 36 2  
 
 
 
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli​