Chris Drury went with quantity over quality at last week’s trade deadline to upgrade the New York Rangers roster. Although it is a small sample size, the early returns are proving that was the right decision. Instead of spending big on only one expensive, high level player, Drury acquired a plethora of players to fill out the roster.
Tyler Motte, Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano and Justin Braun all fit the mold of what this team strives to be, and may even be more valuable during postseason play. All four of these players were very cheap to obtain, especially when taking into account the market around the NHL. To some, the Copp deal may have been an overpayment, but you must give in order to get a versatile player who can win faceoffs, and play in all situations.
When looking back at recent trade deadlines, these moves seem awfully similar to something we have seen before. At the 2020 trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning went the same route. Rather than going for the big fish available at the time like Vincent Trocheck, Tyler Toffoli, or Alec Martinez, Bolts GM Julien BriseBois sought to improve their depth. And it paid off.
As many are familiar, Tampa left the trade deadline with Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow and Zach Bogosian. All three of them were massive contributors down the stretch of the regular season, as well as during their run to winning the Stanley Cup in the bubble.
Could the Rangers’ version of these acquisitions provide the same result? Let’s compare.
Andrew Copp/Blake Coleman
Copp and Coleman had almost identical stat lines at the time of their trades. When the Lightning acquired Coleman, he had posted 31 points in 57 games. Copp, on the other hand, had 35 points in 56 games when the Rangers brought him in.
They also have a very similar playing style. They both play on the wing, but have the ability to play center. Actually, Copp is much better at center than Coleman. He has won 54 percent of draws this year. Rangers fans have been desperate for a consistent face-off winner on this team. They now have their guy.
Additionally, Copp and Coleman each play a 200-foot game. They can put up their fair share of points, but still give it their all in their own end. They are also both very good penalty killers. Penalty killing ability is invaluable to teams hoping to make a playoff push. The proof is in the pudding as we consistently see GMs pay hefty prices for penalty killers.
Tampa Bay fetched Coleman for Nolan Foote (a prospect viewed highly at the time) and a first round pick. Drury got Copp for two second round picks, a fourth round pick and Morgan Barron. There’s a chance that one of the second round picks turns into a first if the Rangers win two playoff rounds. The primary difference between these two deals is that Coleman still had another year left on his contract with a cap hit at $1.8 million. Copp is simply a rental.
Putting this into perspective, these packages are fairly even. If one of the second round picks does become a first roudner, the package for Copp could end up being more costly, but you could argue that he is a better player.
Coleman chipped in during the postseason with 13 points in 25 games. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that Copp would have the same production in the playoffs for the Rangers.
Tyler Motte/Barclay Goodrow
Motte and Goodrow are alike as well. At the time of the trade, Goodrow was not an extremely well known player. His signature moment, however, was his overtime goal for the Sharks in the seventh game of the first round in 2019, a game winner that eliminated Gerard Gallant’s Vegas Golden Knights.
The reputation that he had was of being a Swiss Army Knife, with the ability to play every forward position up and down the lineup. Jon Cooper even called him “a four-wheel drive Jeep” to illustrate his versatility. He was also acquired to be paired on the penalty kill unit with Coleman.
Motte was this season’s Goodrow at the deadline. He has consistently had good results on the Canucks fourth line over the past few seasons, is efficient on the penalty kill, and is a high motored forechecker. Forechecking is an aspect of the game Gerard Gallant loves, and he will come to love Tyler Motte.
Motte has had less of a showing in the statistical department, never generating more than 16 points in a season (he is likely to surpass that amount this season). Goodrow had slightly better numbers at the time of his trade, but not by much.
The striking difference in these deals are the returns. The Sharks fetched a first round pick for Goodrow, while the Rangers only had to cough up a fourth round pick for Motte.
Justin Braun/Zach Bogosian
Both of these moves seem insignificant, but you can never have enough defenseman come playoff time. Braun and Bogosian are both sixth/seventh quality defenseman who are competent in their own end and can kill penalties (noticing a trend?).
Bogosian wasn’t a vital piece to the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, but every player has a role and he contributed. Acquiring low cost players like these two give your head coach the opportunity to give defensemen rest down the stretch. Also, it provides them with the luxury to play certain match ups or to have a safe option if a young player can’t handle the postseason (ie: Braden Schneider).
Braun was acquired for a fourth round pick, while Bogosian was a free agent signed to a $1.3 million deal after his contracted had been terminated by the Buffalo Sabres. Therefore, they were both brought in at a cheap price, and can do nothing but help a team in these positions.
Frank Vatrano is unlike any of the players the Lightning obtained, but was a great find for the Rangers. The Rangers had been trotting out one of the worst bottom six forward groups in the NHL in terms of offensive ability. Bringing in this number of players was necessary to revamp that group.
Vatrano may not be as defensively responsible as Motte and Copp, but the Rangers desperately needed another player who could put the puck in the net. He can do just that, and proved it Sunday evening vs Buffalo with two goals. He put on display his great shot, something that we hope to continue to see.
For only a fourth round pick, this was great deal for Chris Drury. You can never have too much depth.
Trades like these are one’s that winning teams make. Drury acquired players that fit the mold of Gallant’s system, and that can be utilized in an abundance of situations. So far, they have proven beneficial, but come playoff time, these trades could be looked at similarly to the deals the Lightning made two years ago. Will they help them get as far? We shall see.