Let's get one thing out of the way: The Rangers shouldn't necessarily regret their 2022-23 trade deadline, which was the biggest splash of any NHL team in recent memory. But it didn't get the job done.

New York went in big and acquired star veterans Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. They added solid depth in Tyler Motte and Niko Mikkola. The moves were prudent, and the Rangers didn't give really give up that much.

GM Chris Drury got a (once) generational player with ample postseason experience in Kane without giving up a first-rounder or a top prospect. He got perennial sniper and Cup champion Tarasenko, and Mikkola, for only one of the Rangers' two first-round picks at the time, a 2024 third-rounder, Sammy Blais and Hunter Skinner. The prices were too good to pass up.

But as the clock ran out on a lifeless Rangers team Monday and the Devils took Game 7 4-0, your mind immediately went to the lack of elite, playoff-level elevation from the trade-deadline acquisitions and other star players. This is a team that had much bigger aspirations than just making the playoffs. For the season to end with a series loss to a younger, faster and hungrier rival team like the Devils, it had to sting badly.

Kane was extremely disappointing in particular when the Rangers needed him most, scoring zero goals, zero points and posting a minus-one in Game 7, and only scoring one goal in the seven-game series. Whether it was the reported hip injury that limited him throughout the season or the lack of chemistry the 34-year-old had with his linemates, the soon-to-be free agent fell far short of the "Showtime" moniker he earned winning three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.

Like the rest of the Rangers, Tarasenko started off great as the team took a 2-0 series lead and it felt like the young Devils were already toast. He scored the first goal of the series quickly in Game 1, but he'd only end up with four points (three goals and an assist) in seven games. He was virtually invisible at best during the Rangers' losses, and his worst game was the most important one of all—he posted a minus-three in Game 7.