Grading the Vincent Trocheck deal for the NY Rangers

NY Rangers, Vincent Trocheck (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
NY Rangers, Vincent Trocheck (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images) /

The NY Rangers have made the first big splash of NHL Free Agency by signing center Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year deal with a reported Average Annual Value of $5.625 million. There was no doubt that the Rangers entered Day One of NHL Free Agency needing a legit second-line center, and they’ve wasted little time in accomplishing that particular goal.

We’ll delve into the deal itself, where Trocheck will fit in the lineup and what it means going forward in Free Agency before attempting to give the deal an overall grade. There have and will be other deals for the Blueshirts today and over the next few weeks with veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak signing a short-term deal, but Trocheck will be the biggest acquisition of Free Agency for this franchise without a doubt.

NY Rangers fill a vital need with Vincent Trocheck signing

Again, it cannot be understated just how badly the Rangers needed a legitimate second-line center heading into Free Agency. With Ryan Strome, Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp all testing the open market – with the latter signing a five-year, $28.125 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings – depth down the middle was razor thin.

By signing Trocheck to a bumper contract, the Rangers have immediately filled their need for a second-line pivot and they now have nice depth down the middle with Mika Zibanejad, Trocheck and Filip Chytil filling the first three pivot spots. We’ll see what happens with Kevin Rooney later.

Trocheck is a speedy forward that can play a two-way, 200-foot game and he addresses a lot of the needs the Blueshirts were looking for in a second-line center. Most importantly, he put up good production without Artemi Panarin on his wing in 2021-22 with 51 (21 G, 30 A). As a result, expect the 29-year-old to maybe reach the 70-point threshold with Panarin and one of Alexis Lafreniere / Kaapo Kakko on his line.

Offense aside though, Trocheck brings so much more to the table from an intangibles standpoint. He is historically incredibly good in the faceoff circle, boasting a career 52.1 win percentage including a win percentage of 54.6 percent in 2021-22. That’s considerably more than both Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp and it is an area the Rangers struggled in last year, particularly in the postseason. They finished 24th in faceoff win percentage (48.1) during the regular season.

Trocheck is also incredibly speedy and his wheels and ability to create a rapid transition game will bring a different dimension to this lineup. He also has some snarl to his game and can play a hard-nosed, 200-foot game. He’s not afraid to finish his checks, get to the dirty areas and lay on big hits – as the Rangers found out during the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It is also worth noting that the veteran is coming off his strongest season production-wise since the 2017-18 season, where he recorded 75 points (31 G, 44 A) under now Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant. A reunion with a Head Coach he flourished and thrived under should only fill Rangers fans with more positive vibes.

About the length of the free agency contract

If there was one consistent knee-jerk reaction to the Trocheck signing, it was the length of the contract. A seven-year deal for a 29-year-old carries many red flags about what that contract may look like in years five, six and seven of that deal.

However, there are a couple of important factors to consider here. Firstly, Trocheck has only just turned 29 and he was a regular last year after a couple of injury-hit seasons. Secondly, as we mapped out here, the Rangers had to get clever in order to make a big addition today.

With just over $10 million in cap space and multiple needs to address, including sorting out a new contract for Kakko – General Manager Chris Drury had little wriggle room when it came to cap space. By giving Trocheck a seven-year deal, it evens out the Average Annual Value and allows the team to do a few other things in Free Agency.

Ultimately, the Rangers’ window to win is right now and they will worry about the latter years of Trocheck’s contract when they get there. In reality, it won’t matter if the center can play a big role in bringing a Stanley Cup back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 1994.

Grading the deal

Ultimately, this is a hard exercise to do and it isn’t exactly an exact science given that we have no clue how Trocheck’s time in New York is going to pan out. All we can do, however, is grade on a curve based on what we know.

As we’ve said a few times already in this piece, the main offseason goal for the New York Rangers was to acquire a high-end second-line center. They’ve done that with Trocheck who could potentially hit over 70 points while bringing some grit and snarl to the table. Despite being 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, he’s every inch a typical two-way player.

This is probably an upgrade on both Strome and Copp so that can be seen as a big win for the Rangers, who now boasts a legit three-headed monster at center with Zibanejad, Trocheck and Chytil. Plus, Trocheck’s speed cannot be overstated in terms of the avenues it opens up for this lineup.

The only slight knock on the deal is the length of the contract but, as stated above, that was the only way the Rangers could come to terms on an AAV that fits in with their salary cap constraints, so the seven years can be viewed as a necessary evil in this case.

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Overall, the New York Rangers did not mess about in addressing their biggest need once Free Agency opened, and they get a very good upgrade at second-line center who should be worth the money he’s getting. This is a very, very good move with very few negatives.

B+. . Center . New York Rangers. VINCENT TROCHECK