The Rangers made a major deal four days ahead of this weekend’s draft, acquiring Jacob Trouba, an elite defenseman, from the Winnipeg Jets.
To get Trouba on Monday, the Rangers traded defenseman Neal Pionk plus the 20th choice in Friday night’s first round, a pick they acquired from the Jets as part of a trade for forward Kevin Hayes late last season.
Trouba, 25, has spent his entire six-year career with the Jets, who selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2012. He is a restricted free agent whom the Rangers will now have to try to sign.
“He can play against the best players, he has offense, he can kill penalties, he’s in the prime of his career,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said. “The opportunity for player like that to become available doesn’t happen all the time.”
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Trouba had eight goals and 42 assists last season for the Jets. He figures to become a critical part of the Rangers’ power play. A Michigan native, Trouba has 42 goals and 137 assists in 408 career games.
The Rangers have the No. 2 overall pick this Friday night, and they are expected to pick either the American-born center Jack Hughes or the Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko. The Devils have the top overall selection.
The trade with the Jets is another important step in the Rangers’ rebuild, during which they have traded key veterans in each of the past two seasons as the team failed to reach the playoffs. The Rangers have been collecting young talent to work with Coach David Quinn, who joined the Rangers before last season after coaching at Boston University.
The Rangers also have two picks in the second round of the draft — the 49th over all, which they got in the trade of Mats Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars in February, and No. 58. They also have held onto one pick each from Rounds 3 to 7.
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