Vincent Trocheck was as advertised in first year with Rangers
Vincent Trocheck was the player the Rangers signed him to be during his first season in New York.
The center didn’t light it up every night or log All-Star stats, but that’s not what he was brought in to do. When the Rangers locked down Trocheck with a seven-year, $39.375 million contract in July 2022, they were looking for stability down the middle and to add a little snarl to the lineup. That’s exactly what he did, growing into his role on the new team as the season went on.
“I thought it was a great regular season. I had tons of fun,” Trocheck said following the Ranger’s first-round playoff exit in May.
“It’s a new experience for me being in such a big market and being in New York. The team was great, took some adjusting. I learned a lot from the season.”
A big question coming into Trocheck’s first year as a Blueshirt was his chemistry, or lack thereof, with star winger Artemi Panarin who had previously connected well with now Anaheim Duck center Ryan Strome.
Vincent Trocheck came as advertised
Coming from Rod Brind’Amour’s speedy, grinding system in Carolina, Trocheck had to adjust to not only the bigger stage, but having higher-end talent skate alongside him. Not that the Hurricanes don’t have legitimate goal-scorers, but carrying the responsibility of setting up a guy like Panarin is a different type of pressure.
As expected, there was a learning curve that the 30-year-old had to work through before hitting consistent production –– and it didn’t take him too long to do so. Trocheck had 22 goals and 42 assists last season while skating nearly 20 minutes a game and never drastically slumped.
One of Trocheck’s biggest impacts was at the faceoff dot, a spot where the Rangers have notoriously struggled for years on end. Trocheck won 56 percent of his faceoffs, creating the start of chances and momentum for his squad as a result.
As with many of the Rangers’ top-paid players, Trocheck didn’t have an outstanding postseason. The pesky, hard-hitting but still offensively talented guy the Rangers faced in the 2022 playoffs while battling the Hurricanes in the second-round didn’t have the same fire in the Blueshirts’ brief 2023 run.
“For me, 10 years in the league, not winning, it really, it wears on you,” Trocheck said.
“You only get so many chances to have teams that are capable of winning a Stanley Cup. We need to not take for granted the ability we have with this team.”
Trocheck should excel under Laviolette
New head coach Peter Laviolette was hired to help this group reach that final destination, but the game plan will no doubt be different. As things stand, Trocheck will likely be centering Panarin and Blake Wheeler on the second line.
However, Laviolette’s introductory message of letting the kids –– who are actually no longer kids –– get the chance to develop through top-six playing time could complicate Trocheck’s role in the 2023-24 campaign.
“Those young players do need an opportunity to grow. They have to be, not given, but they have to be given the opportunity to be counted on more,” Laviolette said in his opening statements in June.
“I think inside of a team, inside of the framework of a team, everybody wants to feel that responsibility. They want to feel valued with what they do.”
Filip Chytil is not a better 2C fit than Trocheck, but heading into his seventh season with the team, there have to be strides of improvement and heightened responsibility. I’m not sure that can exclusively happen on the third line.
Nonetheless, the Rangers are coming back with their core intact and a guy like Trocheck, who can be a difference-maker, much more comfortable in his role and with his relationships with his teammates.
Trocheck did what was asked of him in the 2022-23 season, now it’s time to elevate and dig a little deeper. He said it himself, he’s tired of losing. What will Trocheck do to change that?
“I think we have boatloads of potential and obviously we’re a pretty young team so I think we can be good for a long time,” Trocheck said. “We’re all disappointed in the way things ended.”