New York Rangers add defensive depth with Justin Braun
The New York Rangers have the defensive depth they've been needing.
In a trade with their Metropolitan Division rivals in Philadelphia, the playoff-bound Rangers acquired veteran defenceman Justin Braun ahead of the March 21 trade deadline. The Blueshirts sent a third-round pick in 2023 in exchange for the 35-year-old blueliner. There was no retention on the remainder of his $1.8-million salary.
Braun, a right-shot defenseman, won't be much help offensively but he's a defence-first, shutdown defenseman that can kill penalties. He's scored five goals and assisted on 11 this season in 61 games, helping stabilize the defense for one of the worst defensive teams in the league. He's also played in 100 playoff games, including in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final with the Sharks.
Justin Braun, acquired by NYR, is a veteran shut-down defender and penalty killer who put up strong defensive results in a 2nd pair role on one of the league's worst defensive teams. #NYR pic.twitter.com/w5AUQKbizN— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 21, 2022
Another defenceman will give coach Gerard Gallant more options and allows him to rest his regulars down the stretch. The addition of Braun will also ease some of the pressure off of emerging rookie Braden Schneider. The 20-year-old Schneider is ahead of schedule in his development and has been playing up with the NHL club for most of the season. He's played exceptionally well so far, but there have been signs of struggles.
Last week against the lowly Anaheim Ducks he was burned in the third period by Derek Grant and nearly gave up a goal to Trevor Zegras.
The Rangers have plenty of cap space this season, but with contracts for Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad kicking in next year, Kaapo Kakko and Sammy Blais becoming a restricted free agent this year, K'Andre Miller and Alexis Lafrenière hitting restricted free agency next year, plus big money already committed to Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin the cap will be extra tight in the coming years. A low-cost rental like Braun was what they were after on the blueline.
This allows them to try and make a move to strengthen the back end of their forward group, should they choose to do so.