The New York Rangers were able to address their blue line roughly two-and-a-half hours before the NHL’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline on Monday by acquiring veteran defenseman Justin Braun from the Philadelphia Flyers, as first reported by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek.
Philadelphia receives a third-round 2023 draft pick in return.
New York had been one of the teams to watch heading toward the trade deadline as one of the surprising contenders in the Eastern Conference were preparing for the playoff run with depth issues.
They managed to get a lower-line forward in Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers last week before getting Braun, who will slot in on the right side of the Blueshirts’ third pairing alongside Patrik Nemeth.
He suddenly bolsters the right side of the Rangers’ defense, which is headlined by reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba.
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Braun is a big-bodied defenseman who will add some physicality to the Rangers’ refined ranks. In 61 games this season, he has five goals and 11 assists with a plus-3 rating despite playing for a Flyers team that nosedived to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division this season.
That fall from grace not only resulted in the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault back in December, but it led to the trading of franchise icon Claude Giroux — who was dealt to the Florida Panthers after 14 seasons with the team.
The Braun deal might be the Rangers’ final move heading into the stretch run — though they could try to add another forward — with the hopes of a more organized unit to play in front of goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who has been playing at a Hart Trophy-winning level despite often being left out to dry by his defense.
The 35-year-old also provides a much-needed veteran presence on a very young team that lacks an abundance of playoff experience. Braun alone has 100 games of playoff experience over his 12-year career with the San Jose Sharks (nine years) and Flyers.