The Rangers announced today, their first move ahead of next Monday's trade deadline, moving propsect defenseman Joey Keane to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 22 year old forward Julien Gauthier.
It was just last week that the Keane got his first call-up to the Rangers, following an injury to Tony DeAngelo, and illness to Marc Staal. As it turned out Staal was able to play, and thus the rookie defenseman missed out on the opportunity to make his NHL debut.
In Gauthier, the Rangers have acquired a 6-4 power forward prospect, who has scored both at the QMJHL and AHL level, earning his first NHL appearance earlier this year, finishing his Hurricanes career with an assist, +2 and six penalty minutes in five games.
The Blueshirts ultimately traded from a position of strength, with Yegor Rykov and Libor Hajek still available in the AHL, as well as a stable of promising blueliners headed by K'Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, as well as the likes of Matthew Robertson, Hunter Skinner, Zachary Jones, Tarno Reunanen and Nico Gross.
Conversely, the forward stocks look a little more bare, and with the potential loss of Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast either now or at the end of the season, the addition of Gauthier provides a little more depth on the Right Wing.
A goal-scoring physical player, with good skating, Gauthier brings an element somewhat missing from the team today, moreso if Chris Kreider is ultimately dealt by the deadline. He is not afraid to play in front of the net, and perhaps the biggest knock on him to date, is been his shoot-first mentality to an extent that he may miss opportunities where a pass might be the better option. Still, on a team that typically has the opposite issue, Gauthier may find himself a good fit for the Rangers, if he can figure out how to convert his success to the NHL.
In terms of contract, the young Quebec native has this year and next remaining on his entry-level contract, and will be an affordable option for the Rangers as they deal with a number of buy-outs still on the books.
The trade is the third in the last four years between the two franchises, with Eric Staal being acquired for two second round picks and prospect Aeksei Saarela - currently leading the Canes' AHL affiliate in scoring - and the spring-time trade that saw Adam Fox acquired for two 2nd rounders.
Coincidentally Gauthier wore #44 in his five games with the Hurricanes, the same number that was issued to Joey Keane on his call-up last week.