Here’s Why the New York Rangers Deserve More Credit for This Deal
The New York Rangers were very active at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
They made a trade with the Winnipeg Jets, bringing in two-way forward Andrew Copp to bolster their "middle-six" forward lines. They also acquired defenseman Justin Braun, a stay-at-home defender with experience in the playoffs, from the Philadelphia Flyers.
They made a move a few days before the deadline, as well. That move is getting better and better as every game goes by, and the Rangers deserve more credit than they've been getting for making it.
The player who the Rangers acquired days before, in a deal with the Florida Panthers, was Frank Vatrano. A native of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Vatrano played his college hockey at UMass Amherst, before signing professionally with the Boston Bruins, and making his NHL debut at the age of 21.
Vatrano spent the first two seasons and change in Boston, before being moved to Florida during the 2017-18 season. He had been in Florida ever since, and had found a nice home in Sunrise. That said, his highest point total (39) and goal total (24) came in his first year, and he hadn't reached either total since.
As Florida acquired more players and got more talented, Vatrano's role began to diminish, and by the time this season was midway through, Vatrano was on the outside of the lineup, looking in. He had 19 points in 49 games at the time of the trade, and was dealt to New York for a 4th round draft pick on March 16, 2022.
Since then, he's been a revelation.
After Gerard Gallant spent a few games fine-tuning his line-up, Vatrano wound up on the Rangers' top line, alongside center Mika Zibanejad and left winger Chris Kreider. Vatrano took off from there, and at the time of this article's publishing, has seven goals and 11 points in 16 games in a Rangers' uniform.
He's gotten better with time, too. Vatrano had no points in three of his four games as a blue shirt. Since, then he's had no points in three of his last 12 games. That's points in nine of 12, and goals in five.
What the New York Rangers will do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season remains a mystery to all. What we do know, however, is that the team is better-suited for a playoff run now, then they were at the beginning of March, and Chris Drury's acquisition of Frank Vatrano is a big reason for it.