The Rangers capped off a series of moves to bolster their forward depth by trading veteran tough guy Mike Rupp to the Minnesota Wild for penalty killing specialist Darroll Powe and depth forward Nick Palmieri. Earlier last week, the Rangers traded prospect Chad Kolarik for Benn Ferriero, and brought the WBS Penguins product directly to the Rangers dressing room. Ferriero immediately got play on the third line, a spot left by the injured Chris Kreider.
The Rangers capped off this flurry of movement by recalling WJC gold medal winner J.T. Miller, along with Brandon Mashinter, sending Ferriero to their AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
The read on this is easy; the Rangers have a series of injuries that left their third and fourth lines in a state of flux. With Ryan Callahan out with a shoulder injury for roughly another week, and Chris Kreider suffering from both inconsistent play early in this season, and a bone chip in his ankle, GM Glen Sather needed to make some moves.
Here’s the upside – Powe fills the utility shoes of Brandon Prust, and will see regular ice time alongside Brian Boyle on the third line, as well as meaningful minutes on the penalty kill. The apparent hope here is that Boyle will find some lightning in a bottle with a new foil on his wing. Aaron Asham will fit back nicely onto the fourth line, and will be used as an enforcer and a checking forward, since his shot seemingly can’t hit the ocean if standing on the pier. Palmieri will most likely be sent to Connecticut instead of collecting dust on the healthy scratch list.
The recall of J.T. Miller is interesting. It seems like the Rangers are trying to assess whether Miller will catch fire the same way Kreider did last season. If Miller gets hot, Miller will see time on the third line, and maybe some limited special teams minutes. If he doesn’t start cooking, Sather can send him right back to the Whale for more seasoning.
The Rangers are more than likely going to continue exploring other options via free agency, since “greybeard” Jason Arnott could not pass a physical. Other good options could include former Ranger Dominic Moore, although he may not be looking for a return to the rink due to the tragic passing of his wife.
Anyway you look at it, the Rangers need a jump start on the third and fourth lines. After this weekend’s performance against the high flying Tampa Bay Lightning, the second line of Taylor Pyatt, Derek Stepan, and Carl Hagelin seems to have filled a scoring void. Time will tell if their instant chemistry is long term. This flurry of activity on Broadway could make Coach Tortorella comfortable enough to roll four lines, and if that happens, the Rangers could rediscover some of the confidence that made them so very dangerous last season.