Could the Rangers trade for a familiar face to fix their RW problem?

Anaheim Ducks right wing Frank Vatrano (77) skates with the puck against New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) in the second period at Honda Center
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers can’t seem to find consistency on their first-line right wing. Both Jonny Brodzinski and Blake Wheeler have shown flashes of potential with a few solid performances, but neither player looks like a long-term solution for the hole in the lineup. Kaapo Kakko’s injury also adds fuel to the fire that is hurting the Blueshirts’ offense.

As the season progresses, the Rangers are getting better looks at potential options to target when the trade deadline approaches. The Blueshirts had the chance to see Frank Vatrano again this week in their 5-1 victory over Anaheim — and he might just be the best fit for the team.

A reunion with Vatrano seems optimal

The Rangers acquired Vatrano two seasons ago at the trade deadline. He proved to be a solid addition, as he joined the first line seamlessly. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad were looking for a right winger to complete the trio, and Vatrano was just that. This season, Kreider and Zibanejad happen to be on the same hunt.

So far this year, Vatrano has recorded 23 points in 29 games for the Ducks. While he’s performing this well on an overall disappointing team, the ceiling would be high if he were to rejoin the Rangers. Vatrano has proven to mesh well on the Blueshirts’ first line, which gives fans reason to believe he’d be a good fit once again.

Do the Rangers have enough cap space to acquire Vatrano?

At this point of the season, there isn’t much cap space to work with regarding any potential trade. The Blueshirts have just over $100k, leaving very little wiggle room to make a move.

The good news is that Vatrano’s cap hit comes at just $3.65 million. It’s a lot more than the Rangers have to work with, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to clear up. That number happens to be around what Barclay Goodrow is making, a name that could certainly be moved as the year progresses. All in all, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to open up the cap space to afford Vatrano.

Vatrano wouldn’t be just a rental

The last time Vatrano was acquired by New York, he was in the final year of his contract. Once the season came to a close, he immediately became a free agent and the Rangers simply did not have the cap space to keep him around.

If the Blueshirts were to reunite with Vatrano, his contract would extend to the end of next season. Rather than being a one-year rental, they’d be able to reap the benefits of Vatrano’s skill for more than just one season. The term of his contract, the price tag, and his elite abilities are all reasons to assume the Rangers should make a strong push to acquire Vatrano once again.

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