New York Rangers: Trade Deadline Reviewby Liz Pendergraft March 23, 2022 0 comments
The New York Rangers seemed quiet throughout the period leading up to the trade deadline. It appeared as if general manager Chris Drury was not doing anything. However, the more likely scenario is that the prices for some players were higher than the Rangers wanted to pay.
It is worth mentioning that both Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney will not be back until some time in April. Drury mentioned it when speaking about the draft, and explains some of his choices. Also, as good as Braden Schneider is, he does not have any playoff experience. Nevertheless, Drury found a way to improve the team on both sides of the puck while not giving up assets like Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, Brennan Othmann, and Tarmo Reunanen. Today, we are looking at the trades and assessing if Drury makes the grade as a general manager.
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The Rangers gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2023 third-round pick for Braun. He is a right-handed shot and has played on the right side his entire career. Braun will likely be rotated in and out with Schneider since it is doubtful Gallant would change the top two pairings. The 35-year-old veteran has 100 playoff games under his belt, so there is no doubt it was one of the main reasons Drury pulled the trigger on him. Braun has a cap hit of $1.8 million, so it will be interesting to see if the Rangers decide to make an offer or let him go in the offseason.
The trade for Copp was the largest one the Rangers had. In the deal with the Winnipeg Jets, the Rangers received Copp and a 2023 6th round pick. The Jets got Morgan Barron, a conditional 2022 second-round pick, another second-round pick (Winnipeg’s choice 2022 or 2023), and a 2023 fifth-round pick.
Copp was having his best offensive season with 13 goals and 35 points in 56 games, and his faceoff win percentage was 54. He can play center or wing on the third line, which gives the Rangers options. It depends on how Gerard Gallant wants to piece his lines together. While Copp is considered a rental, there is no doubt that if his performance with the Rangers is good, they will offer some type of extension. All of his stats have been trending in a good direction, and if the Rangers cannot get a deal done with Ryan Strome, Copp may be the player to take his place.
Position: Right Wing
This was not a significant deal for the Rangers. They exchanged Anthony Bitetto with the San Jose Sharks to get Merkley. He has only played nine games with the Sharks, spending most of the season with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL, netting 11 goals and 36 points in 43 games. He will be playing for the Hartford Wolfpack the rest of this season.
Motte is listed as a center, but he can also play on the wing. In 49 games this season, he has seven goals and 15 points and was a top penalty killer for the Vancouver Canucks. The Rangers gave Vancouver a 2023 fourth-round pick, which is fair for a player who might be destined for the Rangers’ fourth line. In addition, Motte provides speed and energy, which are two things the Rangers are always looking for. Despite his stats or faceoff skills being the best, he will give the team depth at the forward position, allowing the Rangers to rotate players.
Position: Left Wing
Vatrano was the first trade the Rangers made, giving the Florida Panthers a 2022 fourth-round pick. He is currently on the second line with Strome and Artemi Panarin. He might be moved to the third or fourth line once Kakko returns from his injury. This can prove to be good, as his skills will help the bottom six overall. In 49 games this season with Florida, Vatrano had ten goals and nine assists, and his 40.9 faceoff percentage was decent. Vatrano has 11 power-play goals in his career, and he gives the Rangers more scoring options, perhaps on the power play. However, the Panthers gave him up for a low cost due to needing to free up cap space. Vatrano’s cap hit is $2.53 million, and he could get a new contract from the Rangers.
What Becomes of the Rangers Now?
It’s hard to say. They are still inconsistent, but that is not on the shoulders of the new guys. This season-long issue needs to be addressed before the playoffs and time is running out. They have gone 2-1 in their last three games, and while it does not seem too bad, think about it for a moment. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes but lost last night 7-3 to the New Jersey Devils, who are last in the Metropolitan. With 18 games left in the season, they need to get it worked out. They will not be able to coast along into a playoff spot. While there is no danger of them missing the playoffs, they are still in charge of where they land.
They need to be willing to fight for it, but they are not there yet. However, it appears the Rangers’ rebuild has concluded.
Trade Deadline Grade for Drury: B-
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