In an obvious concession to their precarious salary cap situation, the Rangers traded Matt Cullen to Carolina for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, center Joe Barnes and a third round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Hutchinson has played in just 95 NHL games, and only 41 last year.
Seeing how this trade seems to be more about freeing some cap space, I’ll tell you up front I’m skeptical, and only in small part because Cullen was one of the most pleasant guys to get to know last year. More important, I thought he was better than his numbers showed, and was poised to have a much-improved 2007-08 having had a year to settle in New York.
Cullen was arguably the team’s fastest skater, and one of their hardest-working, but now with both he and Jed Ortmeyer gone, the Rangers will be without their two best penalty killers from last season (although Sean Avery had joined their ranks toward the end).
I like the idea of giving a Brandon Dubinsky or Artem Anisimov a chance next year, but similar to the Dominic Moore trade at this time last year, you wonder if the team really thought through what they’d be missing.