Yesterday was trade deadline day in the National Hockey League (NHL). Over the past few days, several big names were traded including Claude Giroux being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Florida Panthers. However, over in Manhattan, general manager, Chris Drury and the New York Rangers made three trades on deadline day that will add depth to their blueline and bottom-six.
Five days before deadline day, the Rangers acquired veteran forward Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers for a fourth-round pick at the 2022 NHL Draft. Vatrano did not cost the Rangers much, but the speedy right wing has already earned a promotion from head coach, Gerard Gallant up to the second line where he has played these last three games with center Ryan Strome, and left-wing Artemi Panarin.
The first trade that the Rangers made on March 21st involved acquiring veteran defenseman Justin Braun from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blueshirts were able to acquire the veteran defenseman for a third-round pick in 2023. New York has now added a 35-year-old blueliner with nine years of playoff experience before the Stanley Cup Playoffs which the Rangers will probably make it into.
The second trade that the Rangers made involved getting Andrew Copp from the Winnipeg Jets for Morgan Barron, a 2023 fifth-round pick, and two 2022 conditional picks. One of those conditional picks will start out as a 2022 second rounder but, if the Rangers reach the Conference Finals and Copp plays 50 percent of those games, it will become the Rangers’ 2022 first round pick. The second conditional pick starts out as the St. Louis Blues’ 2022 second round pick and will become the Rangers 2023 second-round pick based on those same conditions.
Last but not least, the Rangers sent a fourth-round pick to Vancouver for bottom-six forward, Tyler Motte, who should add depth to a fourth line that will reportedly be without center Kevin Rooney until April. Now, without further ado, let us take a closer look at all three of the veteran NHL players, Braun, Copp, and Motte that the Rangers added at yesterday’s trade deadline day!
Trading for Copp was a Great Move
During this current 2021-22 NHL season, the Rangers third line has been a liability for the entire year. Left-wing Barclay Goodrow has been this line’s only solid player while, on the other hand, it’s center, Filip Chytil and right-wing Julien Gauthier have scored less points together than Goodrow has by himself.
To fix these lingering issues, the Rangers traded three assets for a strong, 6’1″, 206-pound center from Ann Arbor, Michigan named Andrew Copp. The 27-year-old center has been putting up better numbers offensively for the last two seasons and during the 2020-21 NHL season, Copp set career-highs in goals (15), assists (24) and points (39) during a 56-game schedule.
Another reason why Copp will be a good addition to the Rangers is simple. At 27 years old, he is still in his prime and seems like exactly the kind of reliable, two-way forward that the Rangers needed to add to their bottom-six. For these reasons, Andrew Copp could be the strong, two-way center that will not only bring his particular set of skills to the table but who could also be the kind of veteran NHL center who can also make his teammates better as well.
What can Braun do for Blue
This trade is interesting in a way because it is not clear where Braun fits. Clearly the Rangers first two defensive pairing will not be changed, which means that the third defensive pairing that includes Patrik Nemeth on the left side and rookie Braden Schneider on the right side, may be broken up to make way for Justin Braun.
Drury traded for Braun because he believed that adding an experienced veteran defenseman to the Ranger blueline was a smart decision and here is why it was. Braun has been an NHL defenseman for the last 12 seasons and during that time he has played in exactly 100 playoff games. He was not just a passenger on the San Jose Sharks team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016, he averaged 21:23 minutes of ice-time which shows how much the Sharks valued Braun.
With the Rangers being in third place in the Metropolitan division and looking like a playoff team, it’s hard to think of somebody they could have added who can be a better mentor for their young defensemen than Justin Braun and it will be interesting to see where Head Coach Gerard Gallant decides to play Braun.
The Rangers Added the Depth they Needed
As far as what the Rangers accomplished by acquiring Tyler Motte for a draft pick? Well, this one’s a head-scratcher because Motte is just 5’10” and 172 pounds and he’s not a big guy by any means, however let’s look a little deeper. The Canucks center has scored 15 points this season and while Chytil has 16 points and Goodrow has 24, 15 points is more than anyone else on the Rangers’ third or fourth line has scored this season. My summary is that Motte, while he will not make the Rangers a tougher team physically, can bring his hustle and determination to get greasy goals, as Wayne Gretzky likes to call them, on the Rangers fourth line.
Last but not least, the Rangers also traded for Frank Vatrano, five days before the trade deadline and here’s what I think about Vatrano. So far, the 28-year-old right winger has scored a goal in his first three games with the Blueshirts, including the second goal in New York’s huge 2-0 win over the Eastern Conference’s best team, the Carolina Hurricanes on March 20.
Yes, neither Motte nor Vatrano will intimidate any of the hard-hitting teams who the Rangers will have to face during the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs. However, the Rangers were able to add a big, veteran defenseman named Justin Braun to their young blueline and a strong two-way center named Andrew Copp to their bottom-six forwards, so Rangers fans should feel better about their team’s forward depth than they did before the trade deadline passed by.
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