The Rangers, who have lost seven straight, now have three first-round picks (one of which was acquired in the Nash deal), two second-rounders and two third-rounders for the June draft in Dallas.
They are 3-13-1 in their last 17 games and are almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They are focusing instead on building their roster for the future.
Namestnikov, a first-round pick by the Lightning in 2011, is the only player currently on an N.H.L. roster that the Rangers acquired through their deals over the past two weeks. A 5-foot-11-inch forward, Namestnikov has 20 goals and 24 assists this season and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
The 19-year-old Howden is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound center who was Tampa Bay’s first-round pick two years ago and is in his third season with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Hajek, 20, is a 6-foot-2 defenseman from the Czech Republic picked in the second round in 2016.
The 28-year-old McDonagh, who became the Rangers’ captain in October 2014 after Ryan Callahan was traded to the Lightning for Martin St. Louis, has not played since a 6-1 home loss to Boston on Feb. 7 because of an unspecified upper-body injury. Following that defeat, a clearly frustrated McDonagh said it was “one of the worst games of my career and one of the worst games I’ve ever been a part of in my Rangers career.”
McDonagh had two goals and 24 assists before his injury this season. A first-round selection by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007, he joined the Rangers via trade in June 2009.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do,” Gorton said of trading McDonagh. “He’s a player we view as a really special Ranger, the captain of our team.”
The trade reunites McDonagh with his former defense partner Dan Girardi, as well as the former Ranger Anton Stralman. McDonagh and Girardi were a crucial blueline duo for the Rangers when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
McDonagh’s contract expires after next season.
The 24-year-old Miller was in his sixth season with the Rangers, who selected him 15th over all in the 2011 draft. He had 13 goals and 27 assists in 63 games but seemed out of sync at times this season with Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault shifting him between center and wing.
The Rangers have been lacking true centers since trading Derek Stepan to Arizona last June. That has surely been an key reason for their struggles this season. They are last in the Metropolitan Division before starting a three-game Western Canada road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday.