In a minor move before the trade deadline, the Rangers traded for Toronto Maple Leafs center John Mitchell, the team announced Monday. The Rangers traded a 2012 seventh-round draft pick for the 26 year old, who will report to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
While the Rangers acquired Mitchell, they did not complete a deal for Dallas center Brad Richards, a player the Rangers have been linked to for quite some time.
"I really can't speak about the Richards situation because he belongs to the Dallas Stars," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said during a conference call Monday. "Any of the conversation that other teams have had or expressed interest we have said very little about and don't plan on saying anything about it, so that's sort of a dead issue with me."
In 23 games with the Maple Leafs this season, Mitchell has scored two goals and one assist while registering a -7 plus-minus rating. He missed time this season with a knee injury and after being placed on waivers was assigned to Toronto's AHL affiliate on Feb. 10. He has scored 20 goals and added 35 assists in 159 career regular season games with the Maple Leafs.
This is the Rangers second move before Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Saturday, the squad traded for Florida's veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe in exchange for forward Tim Kennedy and a third-round pick in the 2011 draft. In January, the Rangers traded defenseman Michal Rozsival for forward Wojtek Wolski.
"We ended up getting McCabe a few days earlier and we got Wolski a couple of weeks ago and those are things we were looking to do," Sather said. "We were looking to get a left-handed shooting defenseman with McCabe and I think we did that. With Wolski, we needed somebody up front that's got a little more finesse with the puck and I think we did that."
Sather said there was plenty of interest in the team's core group of young players at the trade deadline, but didn't want to hurt the team's future with a deal.
"The goal was not to give up any of these young kids that are coming and are developing right now," Sather said. "I'm not just talking about the ones that are here but the depth players we have in Hartford and the young players we have that aren't signed yet and are coming out of junior and coming out of college. [There was] a lot of interest in those players but I really didn't want to move any of them and I didn't want to move any of the kids off our team and we think that we have good chemistry here."
The Rangers are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points, three points ahead of eighth-place Carolina and five ahead of ninth-place Buffalo, who the Rangers will host Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The GM likes the team he has going forward.
"They work hard, they're competitive and we've been playing very well," Sather said. "We haven't scored enough goals last few games, but I think that we are in a position where the team is starting to get healthy and I think we are going to be just fine."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.