After losing in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final last season, the New York Rangers entered the offseason with one major question, what would they do at second-line center? The Rangers had Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp as UFAs who had played on the team and they knew what they could provide. They could give Filip Chytil the chance to show if he could be a second-line center after having a great post-season.
With all of these options on the team, the Rangers decided to bring in an outside option. They opted to let Copp and Strome walk as free agents and signed Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year deal worth $5.625 million per season and gave him a No-Move Clause for the first three years of the deal. While many were questioning the deal at the time, the main reason the Rangers targeted him was because of his relationship with Gerard Gallant.
Trocheck played under Gallant in Florida and they had a good relationship. With Gallant now gone one year into his deal, the Trocheck signing is looking worse for the Rangers.
Trocheck isn’t a bad player by any means and his first season in New York was a relatively good one by his numbers. He scored 22 goals and 64 points in 82 games, the most since his career-high that he set in Florida under Gallant during the 17-18 season when he had 31 goals and 75 points. Trocheck was a key man on the power play and penalty kill and when he signed, he automatically became the Rangers’ best face-off taker as he won 56.1% of the draws he took this season.
The second best was Mika Zibanejad at 49.5% who has not been the greatest face-off taker in his career. Trocheck was great on both sides of the puck and he brought a little more speed and versatility to the team than what Strome and Copp brought to the Rangers. So while he did have a good first year, it’s the future of this deal that will cause problems for the Rangers.
As mentioned earlier. Trocheck had a good relationship with Gallant and that was a key factor in his signing with the Rangers. Nobody expected that after only one year that Gallant would be gone and the Rangers would have to begin looking for a new head coach. Trocheck has had his best two seasons under Gallant and with him gone, the question is can he still be the same player under a new coach?
Gallant was able to bring out the best in Trocheck and even though he and Artemi Panarin didn’t have the best chemistry this year, Gallant was able to make it work and gave them time to find their game together. As the Rangers begin their search for a new head coach from a thin pool of options, they have to bring someone in who is going to get the best out of the veteran players, this includes Trocheck who might not be happy that his coach got fired after his first year in New York.
Another negative of his deal is the impact it has on the Rangers’ cap going forward. While the money isn’t terrible, it’s the fact that the Rangers gave him seven years and an NMC. That means if they wanted to trade him, they would have to ask him and it’s likely that he would say no. He joins four other Rangers with NMCs and they take up a majority of the Rangers cap space for the foreseeable future.
That means if the Rangers wanted to clear cap space, they would have to move other players or even their young players because they decided to give all of their top-paid players, trade protections for a majority of their deals. The Rangers are going to have a limited amount of cap space this summer and changes need to be made. Trocheck is also blocking Chytil from getting true time in the second-line center role and with Chytil signed for four more years, they need to see if he can handle that opportunity for an extended period of time.
Again, Trocheck isn’t a bad player whatsoever. He brought something to the Rangers that they were lacking and he provided offense and defense when it was needed. It’s just that his contract is going to hurt the Rangers more than it benefits them going forward. He was two more years of a NMC and after that, it becomes modified. So for at least two more seasons, the Rangers will have Trocheck and hopefully, they can find a way to win. Otherwise, he could see his time in New York come to an abrupt end.