By Sean Hartnett
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The Rangers kicked off their unfamiliar role as trade deadline sellers by dealing Nick Holden to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Holden was traded to the Bruins in exchange for 24-year-old defenseman Rob O’Gara and a 2018 third-round draft pick.
O’Gara skated in eight games for the Bruins this season. The left-handed defenseman has appeared in 11 career NHL games and is yet to record a point. He has dressed for 43 games for the Providence Bruins of the AHL this season, collecting two goals and six assists.
A native of Nesconset, Long Island, O’Gara was voted as the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s best defensive defenseman in 2014-15 while at Yale. He twice received All-Ivy League first-team honors and was selected as an NCAA East first-team All-American in 2014-15. O’Gara was a freshman member of the Yale team that captured the 2012-13 NCAA national championship.
At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, O’Gara possesses a similar frame to Rangers alternate captain Marc Staal. He is known for being a defense-first defenseman who plays a calm game and offers a physical edge.
Holden has skated in 55 games for the Rangers this season, recording three goals and nine assists. In his 1½ seasons in New York, he appeared in a total of 135 games for the Rangers, totaling 14 goals and 32 assists for 46 points. The 30-year-old defenseman was acquired by the Rangers from the Colorado Avalanche at the 2016 draft for a fourth-round pick.
A favorite of coach Alain Vigneault, Holden was primarily used on the Rangers’ top pairing alongside captain Ryan McDonagh this season. Holden is in the final year of his contract at a cap hit of $1.65 million. He was an obvious candidate to be moved before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Gaining O’Gara and a third-round pick for an expiring contract in Holden represents a solid start by Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton as the deadline nears. Bigger deals are on the horizon, and Gorton will be looking to stockpile prospects and picks in a season when the Rangers are unlikely to make the playoffs.
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