Just prior to submitting their protected list for the NHL’s expansion draft Saturday, the Rangers were able to pull off a couple of trades, acquiring gritty forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Barclay Goodrow from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and dealing away 23-year-old forward Brett Howden to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Goodrow, 28, a 6-2, 203-pound left wing, was a key third line player for the Lightning in both of their Stanley Cup championship runs and would bring a lot of the physicality and abrasiveness the Rangers are seeking to add to their lineup if they are able to sign him. An unrestricted free agent, the Rangers did not need to protect him for the expansion draft, and all he cost them was a seventh-round pick in 2022. By acquiring him via trade prior to the expansion draft, Rangers GM Chris Drury has exclusive rights to sign him before the July 28 start of free agency.
Goodrow had two goals, four assists, and 26 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games this summer and six goals and 14 assists (20 points) plus 52 penalty minutes in 55 games in the 2021 regular season.
Howden, who signed a one-year, one-way $885,000 contract with the Rangers last week, likely would have been included in the Rangers’ protected list of seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender, had they not traded him to Vegas in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2022 draft (which originally belonged to Winnipeg) and minor league defenseman Nick DeSimone.
Moving Howden, who played 178 games in three seasons for the Rangers (16 goals, 33 assists and 53 penalty minutes), freed the Rangers to protect either Colin Blackwell, Kevin Rooney or Julien Gauthier, who signed a one-year deal on Friday. Vegas, which joined the NHL in 2017 as an expansion team, is exempt from Wednesday’s expansion draft.
Blackwell, who bounced around the minor leagues before signing with the Rangers as a free agent prior to last season, ended up being quite a find. He had 12 goals and 10 assists in 47 games, a lot of those on the second line, with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Rooney, signed away from the Devils before last season, was a key penalty killer and fourth line center for the Rangers in 2021, and posted career highs in goals (eight), assists (six), and points (14). Gauthier, 23, had two goals and six assists in 30 games.
DeSimone, 26, has played four seasons in the American Hockey League after coming out of Union College and has yet to play in the NHL. He is an unrestricted free agent, and, according to a source, was included in the trade in order for Vegas to be compliant with the league’s 50-man reserve roster. He is not expected to be signed by the Rangers.