In what looks like a pre-cursor move as we close in on deadline day, the New York Rangers turned a fourth-round pick and their abundance of cap space into a top-nine scoring winger in Frank Vatrano.
What the Rangers Get:
The Rangers have lost Sammy Blais for the season to injury, as well as Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney of late to injuries, so this is a move to address those losses. The Rangers also need help scoring goals, sitting eighth in the Eastern conference in goals for, and seventh out of the eight playoff teams. Vatrano is a goal scorer, as evidenced by the fact that he has only finished with more assists than goals once in his seven-year career. His career high of 24 goals came back in 2018-19, and since then he has had issues cracking the top-six in Florida.
The obvious spot to slot him in the beginning is alongside Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin, which would be a huge upgrade for Vatrano's fantasy stock. Even if he ends up on the third line alongside Barclay Goodrow and Filip Chytil, he's likely still coming out ahead.
What the Panthers Get:
Flexibility. Vatrano was not a necessary piece for this team, and he was not only taking up a lineup spot, but more cap space than the Panthers could afford to pay him. In the short term this may mean there’s a bit more ice time for Joe Thornton and/or Maxim Mamin, but by the time the deadline rolls around on Monday, expect the Panthers to have added at least one other forward.
Players this helps:
For the next game or two: