Frank Vatrano, and 'his team-first approach,' traded from Florida Panthers to New York Rangers

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers acquired Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers on Wednesday for a 2022 fourth-round pick, a trade between two playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams that serves a different purpose for each.

Getting Vatrano gives the Rangers the kind of veteran forward general manager Chris Drury was looking for. The move clears more than $2.5 million of salary-cap space for the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers, who could add more players before the trade deadline Monday.

Vatrano has 10 goals and nine assists in 49 games this season. He scored the tying and winning goals for Florida on Tuesday night at San Jose.

The 28-year-old originally from Massachusetts has 160 points in 394 NHL regular-season and playoff games.

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

The Panthers will get whichever is later in the fourth round between the Rangers' own pick and one previously acquired from Winnipeg.

Florida, which would be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference if the season ended Wednesday, has been linked to Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, perhaps the biggest name available on the trade market.

The talks come at an interesting time for the Flyers, who will celebrate Giroux, 34, and his family before Thursday night's game, which is his 1,000th as a Flyer.

But when management sits down to assess offers for Giroux, Florida is likely to be at the top of the list.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.