Lightning coach Jon Cooper might as well have orchestrated Barclay Goodrow’s new contract with the Rangers himself after the endorsement he gave the 28-year-old forward during Tampa Bay’s second Stanley Cup run this past season.
“You can’t have all Ferraris,” he said. “Sometimes you need a good, old-fashioned four-wheel drive Jeep, and that’s to get you through the mud and that’s what Barclay Goodrow can do for you.”
That’s the kind of player description that lit up Chris Drury’s eyes and not only prompted the Blueshirts general manager to acquire Goodrow, but then lock up the hard-nosed grinder to a six-year, $21.85 million deal on Thursday. Goodrow checks a lot of boxes that the Rangers need, Drury has said, and signing him to a long-term deal was certainly a step toward crafting a more well-balanced lineup.
Arriving on Broadway after back-to-back Stanley Cup triumphs with the Lightning, Goodrow knows exactly the kind of player he is and what he can bring to a team. He has been a Ranger for less than a day, but it seems he already understands what his role will be.
“I’m not a guy who’s going to score 30 goals or put up a ton of points,” Goodrow said frankly in his first media availability as a Ranger. “I’m the guy who’s going to be hard to play against, who’s going to kill penalties, who’s going to generate momentum for my team, who’s going to stick up for his teammates, who’s going to have leadership. I’ve learned what it takes to win at this level, I know the mindset you need to have to win, so I’d just like to share that as much as I can.”
Goodrow pointed out the versatility in his game, describing himself as an “in-your-face, hard-to-play-against guy.” And after serving in a lead role on the Lightning’s penalty kill, Goodrow said he expects to do the same for the Rangers.
Despite skating on the wing with Tampa Bay the past two seasons, Goodrow said he doesn’t have a preference for playing as a winger or center. In 63 games with the Lightning, Goodrow scored six goals and dished 16 assists to go along with 69 penalty minutes. But having played in the middle throughout his first six seasons in the NHL with the Sharks, Goodrow said he is pretty confident at either position.
“Wherever [coach] Gerard [Gallant] wants to use me, how he wants to use me, I’m for that,” he said. “I can play up and down the lineup wherever need be, take some faceoffs, play center or the wing or wherever it may be on the ice. I think over the years I played multiple positions and I’m comfortable playing wherever the team needs me.”
As much as he didn’t want to focus on the future during his second championship run with Tampa Bay, Goodrow knew there was a good chance the cap-strapped Lightning wouldn’t be able to bring him back. But when the Rangers presented themselves as an option, he said it was an easy decision to make.
Having played against Ryan Strome since they were 7 years old, Goodrow said the Rangers’ second-line center was the first to reach out once the agreement was official. And when Goodrow arrived in New York, veteran defenseman and emerging leader Jacob Trouba took the initiative and showed him around.
Goodrow may not have played against the Rangers since right before he was traded from the Sharks on Feb. 22, 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic that forced the NHL to realign the divisions, but he acknowledged how skilled and talented the current roster is. He also made a point to repeat his commitment to sticking up for his new teammates.
When asked about the Rangers’ opening-night matchup against Tom Wilson and the Capitals, which is sure to be a spectacle after the end of last season’s free-for-all following the notorious agitator’s antics, Goodrow seems ready to join the fray.
“Especially a player like I am, I’m drawn to those kind of situations,” Goodrow said. “Opening night should be interesting… I’m excited to jump into a rivalry and just get right into the heat of things.”