Panthers clear cap space by dealing Frank Vatrano to Rangers

panthers deal vatrano
Feb 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Florida Panthers center Frank Vatrano (77) passes the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers have been reportedly all-in to go for the Stanley Cup this season. They’ve been linked to some of the biggest UFA rentals on the market including Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot. It’s also possible that the Panthers are players in the Jakob Chychrun sweepstakes.

On Wednesday, the team cleared out some cap space by dealing pending UFA forward Frank Vatrano to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round draft pick.

The fourth-round pick Florida received in the deal will be the later of the two selections the Rangers have in that round, either their own or Winnipeg’s.

Panthers trade Frank Vatrano to the Rangers

Frank Vatrano
Nov 8, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Frank Vatrano (77) skates past New York Rangers defenseman Nilis Lundkvist (27) in the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Vatrano scored twice in Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory at San Jose, including the winning goal 1:11 into overtime. His first goal knotted the game early in the third period.

He has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) through 49 games this season, the fifth time he has scored double-digit goals in a season.

Vatrano, who turned 28 on Monday, has 157 points (93 goals, 64 assists) in 379 career games with the Boston Bruins (2015-18) and Panthers. Boston traded him to Florida on Feb. 22, 2018 for a third-round pick in 2018.

“After almost five seasons with the club, we want to thank Frank for his professionalism and compete,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said via NHL.com. “His team-first approach was always appreciated, and we wish him all the best moving forward.”

Panthers going for it

The Panthers are considered one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season. This is absolutely a cap clearing move as they prepare to take a run at either Claude Giroux or Ben Chiarot.

“Panthers trade today cleared $2.5M of cap space,” Pierre LeBrun tweeted. “I think Florida is still a possible landing spot for Claude Giroux while I believe the Panthers still looking at top LHD options such as Lindholm, Chiarot or Giordano‚Ķ Bottom line, the Cup contending Panthers far from done.”

Keep your eye out on the Panthers in the next few days. The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report.