Hartnett: Rangers Deal Surplus For Need In Acquiring Gauthier

Right Wing Was Caught In Logjam With Hurricanes

Sean Hartnett
February 19, 2020 - 9:38 am

The Rangers kicked off what will likely be a busy period of activity by completing a one-for-one deal Tuesday. General manager Jeff Gorton bolstered a need position by dealing from an area of strength by acquiring 22-year-old right wing Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes for 20-year-old right-handed defenseman Joey Keane.

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With Adam Fox, Tony DeAngelo and Jacob Trouba currently occupying the right side, the sheer number of left-handers that could play on their off-hand side and right-handed prospects Nils Lundkvist and Hunter Skinner in the organizational pipeline, the competition was getting crowded.

Keane’s impressive development earned him a 2020 AHL All-Star Game selection. Though fans were eager to see what kind of impact he could make as a Blueshirt, it made sense for Gorton to flip a roadblocked prospect. The trade itself could be interpreted as a clear indication that the Rangers plan to keep hold of DeAngelo.

The Rangers and Hurricanes appear to have struck an even trade on paper. Both teams dealt from surplus to fill a need. In the Rangers’ case, acquiring Gauthier can help address the club’s weaknesses of wing depth and size.

If Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast and others are moved before Monday’s trade deadline, it makes even more sense to bring Gauthier to the Garden. Gauthier is signed through the 2020-21 season. His opportunities to break into Carolina’s lineup were seldom. He has skated in five career NHL games. That will change in what should be a more significant role in New York.

Gauthier stands at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds. He comes from a family of bodybuilders. His father, Martin, was crowned 1984’s Mr. Canada. Like Kreider, Gauthier owns an impressive combination of size and speed. He’s proven his scoring touch at the AHL level by recording 26 goals and 11 assists through 44 games this season.

There’s been a mixed reaction to the news of his departure among Hurricanes blogs.

The AHL-to-NHL jump can often be challenging, especially when there wasn’t a clear path for Gauthier in Carolina. If David Quinn can offer him consistent NHL minutes, the Rangers might be able to unearth the potential of the former 21st overall pick.

Sometimes, a change of scenery and the fresh belief of a new organization can have a rejuvenating effect. With a Wednesday visit to Chicago next up on the Rangers’ schedule followed by a Carolina homecoming for Gauthier on Friday, Rangers fans will soon get a taste of the big-bodied wing’s offerings.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey.