Arron Asham missed Wednesday's game against the Boston Bruins with a groin strain, and what many thought over the offseason is becoming clear: The New York Rangers' experiment with him should come to an end.
In his only game this season against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Asham saw only five minutes and 53 seconds of ice time. He recorded no shots.
He did have a fight, but if that's all he's going to provide, there's no sense in carrying him on the roster.
There are better players to fill that role. Stu Bickel is a better fighter, and his toughness would be welcome on the fourth line. The same goes for Brandon Segal.
John Tortorella was anxious to see him start the season, according to Steve Zipay of Newsday:
He brings an element of toughness. I'm anxious to see him on that [fourth] line, and maybe elsewhere . . . I don't expect him to be a saint. The way he plays, you need to allow him to be himself.
But he could not have been too impressed if he played Asham for so few minutes.
The Rangers don't play their fourth line much. Mike Rupp has averaged just seven minutes of ice time so far this season. So if they're only using Asham for his toughness, then it makes a lot more sense to use Bickel. He's better defensively, as that is his natural position, and he is a better fighter.
Yes, Asham is signed to a two-year, $2 million contract. But for now, they can stash him on the bench.
The Rangers play a tough game, but they do not go over the line. Way too often last season, Asham did just that.
Whether it's knocking out Jay Beagle and then playing to the crowd, or a dirty hit to the back of Brayden Schenn's head that earned him a four-game suspension, Asham crosses the line way too often and in a way that doesn't fit in the Rangers' values.
While he was brought into replace Brandon Prust, Asham doesn't kill penalties. While he provides toughness, the Rangers have plenty of that and plenty of betters player to fill that role.
Asham was a misguided signing to begin with. He's old, he doesn't play much and he is taking the minutes of better players, such as Stu Bickel.
It's time for the Rangers to face the facts: The experiment with Arron Asham was misguided, and they should end it now before it can do any real damage.