Frank Vatrano Fitting In with New York Rangers

Frank Vatrano Fit
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The New York Rangers added some defensive forward help at the trade deadline. Andrew Copp and Tyler Motte came over on deadline day, but the Blueshirts got started early with Frank Vatrano. New York got the depth forward from the Florida Panthers for a fourth-rounder. The Frank Vatrano fit has been a good one so far.

Vatrano has added a degree of offensive production to his game since coming over from the Cats. The 28-year-old has seven goals and 11 points in 17 games with his new club. He’s cooled off from his fast start, but he’s settled into the lineup and been key on a resurgent bottom-six for the Rangers.

Frank Vatrano Fit With Rangers

The lefty shooting winger has also been one of the better defensive forwards in the league. His career possession metrics are 54.5 CorsiFor and a 3.0 for his relative Corsi. His relative Corsi with the Rangers is 3.3 and he’s done a great job with Copp in making life difficult for opposing skaters.

Vatrano has been floating around the lineup and can play pretty much anywhere. The fully healthy Rangers’ lineup would have Vatrano on the third line with Filip Chytil anchoring the middle and any number of wingers on the right side. However, injuries have forced head coach Gerard Gallant to shuffle the lineup.

Motte had only played 10 games, but his impact was instant with the Rangers dropping their expected goals against by almost one. Kaapo Kakko had only recently come back and was fitting in just fine. However, he suffered a lower-body injury against the Detroit Red Wings.

Moving Around the Lineup

Both injuries have pushed Vatrano and Copp into the top six according to the Daily Faceoff’s line combination chart. Vatrano was skating on the top line with playmaker Mika Zibanejad and 50-goal scorer Chris Kreider. It’s not set in stone if he’ll stay there on the top line. Gallant has rotated Alexis Lafreniere among others on the wing spot.

Perhaps Gallant is rewarding Vatrano for his hustle by giving him a spot with two elite players. Copp, who has come up with some timely goals of his own, has slotted onto the second line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. The pair’s versatility just proves how capable they are at filling in at any spot in the lineup.

Drury’s deadline dealings soften the blow of losing Motte and Kakko. Copp told the New York Post’s Mollie Walker that being ready to move up in the lineup comes with the territory.

“That’s why you add at the deadline,” Copp said before facing his former team, the Jets, at the Garden on Tuesday. “Everyone has some sort of banged-up issue right now across the league. Everyone’s got guys that are hurt. It definitely sucks losing some guys, but I feel like we’re very capable. We’ve got 15, 16, 17 forwards that can hop in any time.”

Ryan Reaves stepped into the lineup to replace Kakko and he brings that nasty edge that he’s been known for. It’s not the worst thing in the world to have someone ready to throw the fists or the body around.

A Lasting Impression

Vatrano’s effort made him a fan favourite with his former clubs. He was one that was willing to play a 200-foot game. Many thought it was only going to be a matter of time before Vatrano would break through and become a regular. It seemed like he couldn’t crack the established lineup in Boston and that led to his trade to Florida.

He also made a lasting impression in the Sunshine State with the Panthers. Former LWOH Panthers beat writer Nick Mancini raved about his effort and hustle. Mancini also liked other intangibles in his game.

He’s a big time locker room guy that bring some energy. Vatrano works extremely hard and can be a bit of a honey badger on the ice. He’s not afraid to mix it up,” Mancini said.

If followers of former teams are still talking about you, that’s a good thing.

What it Means

Vatrano’s offence has been a bonus for the Rangers. New York has been one of the better teams since the trade deadline thanks to the deals that were made. Igor Shesterkin doesn’t need to make 40 saves a game in order for the Blueshirts to be successful. (However, it’s never a bad thing with three straight shutouts.)

Gallant is hoping Kakko is back for the first round, but Motte may be out for longer. Whatever the case, Vatrano and the rest of the Rangers’ lineup will be ready to step up.

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