It hasn’t been a fast moving trade deadline by any stretch, but a move by Colorado to acquire defenseman Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, appears to have opened the spigot a fraction. A second move yesterday between the Avs and Wild preceded today’s first move by the Rangers, as they acquire forward Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers, in exchange for a 4th round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
While Vatrano doesn’t check all the boxes, he does provide a little bit of scoring depth to a team that is almost wholly reliant on four players to put the puck in the net. The 28 year olf native of Massachusetts, has had a little bit of a down year, on a high powered Panthers offesnse, that was up against the Cap.
Removing Vatrano’s $2.533M from the books, gives them some additional flexibility ahead of Monday’s deadline, and gives the Rangers some help on a third line, that has been more “whoever is left over” than a strategic part of the team’s offense.
With 10 goals in 49 games, Vatrano is a bit below his base over the past three years, where he’s scored 18, 16 and 24 goals and added 50 assists, including 9 this season. Originally thought to be looking for a second round pick, it appears the Rangers waited long enough to prompt the Panthers to settle for a fourth, one of two picks the Rangers held, including their own and that of the Golden Knights – acquired in the trade that sent Brett Howden to the desert.
It is thought to be the lower of the two picks, which would likely be the Rangers, given the current standings that have them second in the Metropolitan, to the Knights second wild card placement in the West.
Vatrano is naturally a left wing, but may have also played on the right side. Primarily used at even strength, he has seen some limited power play time, and appears to be a net creator of offensive chances. Not overly physical, he’s a little undersized at 5-11, 197, and perhaps is more a goal scorer than a playmaker.
It would seem that Julien Gauthier and Jonny Brodzinski are probably the most likely to be impacted by this move. Brodzinski, who was called up for the injured Kevin Rooney, may have earned himself a little extra time with his goal last night, and play since being called up, while Greg McKegg still has the defensive and penalty killing game that Gerard Gallant likes in some of his bottom six. Gauthier by contrast is only used at 5v5 and has struggled to get his offense going since coming from Carolina three years ago. Like Gauthier, Vatrano has been used almost solely at 5v5, and perhaps can also play his off-wing.
A UFA at the end of the season, it’s hard to see Vatrano’s relationship with the team being a particularly lengthy one. If he was to reignite his scoring in a Blueshirt uniform, that would perhaps spur a conversation, but it would seem difficult to justify investing $2.5M plus in a guy who doesn’t play in all situations.