Nearing the end of our season report cards, it’s time to tackle a big one: all of the major trade deadline acquisitions that the Rangers made this year. It comes in our very own form of ‘The Big Three,’ of Motte, Vatrano, and Copp, who have either moved on to a new team now, or in Motte’s case, are shopping free agency hard. Let’s dive in.
Vatrano played 22 regular season games for the Rangers, scoring 8 goals and tallying 5 assists. He played an additional 20 playoffs games, where he matched his regular season Rangers points total of 13, but opted for 5 goals and 8 assists instead.
Vatrano has since signed with the Anaheim Ducks to a three-year deal. While in New York, though, Vatrano had a big impact beyond the handful of points he scored. He often played on a line with Kreider and Zibanejad which certainly boosted his ability to score but he notably passed a lot of fans’ ‘eye tests’ during the playoffs, having the grit factor during games when scoring was slim and energy was low.
Overall, Vatrano was a difference maker on the ice, understanding his role as a rental that ended up on a team deep in the playoffs. He was arguably the most cryptic during his final media day as a Ranger, speaking of unfinished business and telling everyone “until next time.” Who knows when or if that will be, but if it is the end of his Rangers road, I feel confident in a high grade for Frank Vatrano.
In 16 regular season games as a Ranger, Copp had 8 goals and 10 assists. He followed that up with a 20-game, 14-point performance in the postseason as well. Copp got off to a hot start as soon as he joined the Blueshirts, after reuniting with his former Winnipeg teammate in Jacob Trouba.
Copp fit in easily on a line with Strome and Panarin who had a natural connection already. Much like Vatrano with the line he slotted into, Copp definitely benefitted from playing with someone like Panarin who could help him tremendously at scoring and play finishing. While he fizzled out a bit as the playoffs came and went, Copp definitely claimed some key goals that pushed the Rangers forward late during the season.
Copp has already moved on to sign a new deal in Detroit on a five-year deal, but during his time on the Rangers he certainly made an impact that left fans reluctantly sighing at his departure. Plus, he was giving us great best friend content with Trouba!
It’s likely he will find more money and more opportunity to play on a team like the Red Wings, so for that, his move is understandable. He is incredibly deserving of the high A rating that this trio is receiving during their short time on the Rangers.
Motte joined the Rangers in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks, and instantly became a fan-favorite fourth liner. While that may have more to do with his positivity and nature off the ice, it still rings true. He didn’t go on a scoring tear like the other two, but he became an integral part of the Blueshirts fourth line and the team’s physicality. He helped make the fourth line something to be feared, not a fine time to take it easy.
Over the course of nine regular season games with the Rangers, Motte tallied no points, but is still someone most think should re-sign in New York due to his tenacity and attitude on and off the ice. Despite this, it is no shock that he is still holding out for a contract wherever he may go, as he was the player most excited to test free agency and didn’t seem tied to New York as much as others.
On the Rangers, Motte played the part of not the best but not the worst well. He had upsides and if you consider that his ceiling is playing on the fourth line, he executed his job very well. I’m sure he is spending his time looking for more elsewhere but if it is in the cards, I don’t think exploring him as a cheap, permanent, fourth line option is bad.
He would certainly get the lowest of three grades among this group and is probably responsible for the minus in ‘A-’ but that’s still not a bad thing for a guy who didn’t score until deep into the playoffs after joining the team.
Author Grade: A
Banter Consensus: A-
The Rangers had a fantastic second half of the season and playoff run, that is undoubtable. Was it all the doing of these three players? No. Did they help contribute and give a huge edge to a team that may have needed a little extra? Absolutely. Just because I made the mistake of getting too attached to rental players that I’m now mourning the loss of, doesn’t mean that they weren’t well worth it while they were here.
They each brought something unique and needed to the team, even if just for a few months. For that, I think they’ve heard their high grade.
*All Data via Evolving Hockey