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Playoffs to determine if Yandle was worth it

NEW YORK -- Did the New York Rangers give up too much to get Keith Yandle?

Not if Yandle really is the final piece of the puzzle that delivers the organization's first Stanley Cup since 1994, and just the second since 1940. Not if Yandle proves to be as good with the Rangers as Rick Nash has been.

Yandle's former general manager, Arizona's Don Maloney, used the "final piece" description right after Sunday's trade. Yandle's new general manager, Glen Sather, made the Nash comparison Monday, just before Yandle's Rangers debut against the Nashville Predators.

"This is the kind of player I wanted, a player we've been watching for a long time," Sather said, explaining why he was willing to give up as much as he did to get the puck-moving defenseman. "It's not a long shot to get a player like this. This type of player doesn't come along -- he's like Nash in a lot of ways."

The Rangers gave up defenseman John Moore, top prospect Anthony Duclair, a lottery-protected first-round draft pick in 2016 and a second-round pick in 2015 in exchange for Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick in 2016.

Sather's July 2012 trade for Nash was one of his best, given that Nash is second in the NHL in goals this season. Whether Sunday's trade for Yandle will be seen in that light depends in part on how Yandle does and perhaps just as much with how the Rangers do because there's little doubt that this move was made with the idea that it helps lead to a Cup.

Sather said as much, without flatly making a prediction that the Rangers will repeat last season's trip to the Cup finals and this time go a step further. Coach Alain Vigneault said as much too, pointing not just to the trade for Yandle, but also to the acquisition of center James Sheppard and the decision not to part with any of the key members of the Rangers' core.

Not only did Sather keep the heart of his team intact, but he agreed to a four-year, $18 million extension with Mats Zuccarello.

"The real story is the vote of confidence to our players," Vigneault said. "We feel we've got a team that can compete for the Cup."

They do feel that, but Sather revealed Monday that he has believed all season that the Rangers needed an upgrade on the blue line. Neither John Moore nor Matt Hunwick had stepped up to grab the final spot on defense, and Dan Boyle hasn't provided the offensive and power play the lift the Rangers expected when they signed him last summer.

Yandle leads the league in power-play assists.

"I've got to just play my game," Yandle said Monday. "It's special to be here. It's an honor."

It would be an even bigger honor if Yandle lives up to Maloney's decription, or even to Sather's.

"I can't predict where we're going to end up, but I certainly think this guy's a great player," Sather said. "I've been shopping for this guy for a while. He's the kind of player I like. He played the style our team plays.

"This is the kind of player I wanted."

Sather clearly sees an opportunity in the wide-open Eastern Conference. He clearly saw a need. He clearly believes that goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be back and will be fine.

He sees a team that can win a Stanley Cup.

If the Rangers do that, no one will complain about the price.