It has been an eventful day for the New York Rangers. They made a trade that sent Mike Rupp to the Minnesota Wild for Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri, and they called up 2011 first-round pick JT Miller and Brandon Mashinter while sending down Benn Ferriero. (h/t Bob McKenzie)
But what does all this mean?
With a good amount of the season already underway, the Rangers assessed their strengths and weaknesses, and they made moves accordingly.
The Rangers' PK has been below average coming in at 19th overall in the league with a 78.4 success rate. This is something the team was strong in last year, so adding a player like Powe and calling up Miller should help in this area.
Powe was a successful penalty killer in Minnesota, and Miller is a speedy skater who likes to block shots and play physical hockey.
Darroll Powe blocked 91 shots last year. Second most in the league. He'll fit in well with what the rangers do.— Don La Greca (@DonLagreca) February 4, 2013
These attributes will allow each player to fit in with John Tortorella's system, and it will give the Rangers' bench boss multiple bodies to throw out on the ice. This will be very useful, especially when you consider that Ryan Callahan is currently injured.
Winning fights has not been a strength of the team in 2013, and the loss of Brandon Prust is something that the Rangers probably wanted to address.
The team has Asham, but he hasn't be as good as advertised thus far.
In a way, Powe can be looked at as a replacement for the departed Brandon Prust. He not only can kill penalties, but he has no qualms about dropping the gloves with anyone.
Mike Rupp was a top fighter in his day, but during his tenure in New York he lost more fights than he won.
Powe has a big heart and can step in and drop the gloves. This is a sample of some of the fights that Powe has been in over the years.
Another player who will step in to drop the gloves and play physically is Brandon Mashinter, a player acquired last month in an AHL trade with the San Jose Sharks.
Mashinter not only is a physical specimen who can grind and fight, but he has also been a point-per-game player since joining the Connecticut Whale. He won't expected to be a scorer in the NHL, but it is good that he can contribute from time to time.
With the changes in personnel, here is how the forward lines could look.
Rick Nash | Brad Richards | Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin | Derek Stepan | Taylor Pyatt
Aaron Asham | Brian Boyle | Jeff Halpern
JT Miller | Darroll Powe | Brandon Mashinter
In this setup, the top six is kept intact, and Aaron Asham and Jeff Halpern move up to the third line. The fourth line will contain the two call-ups and Powe. What is interesting in this setup is that Miller will probably earn a few shifts off the bat in the top six.
Although he will likely start on the fourth line, he plays a game that would fit well with players like Stepan and Pyatt.
Given how Hagelin and Boyle have played well together in the past, it wouldn't be strange to see Hagelin on the third line and Miller on the second at one point or another.
Additionally, these moves should end the experiment of Stu Bickel as an NHL forward—that clearly was not a successful idea.
Along with Callahan, @chriskreider also wore non-contact jersey in practice today...he is not sure of lineup return just yet— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 4, 2013
Ryan Callahan was back on the ice today, but there is currently no update in his timetable to return into the lineup. Additionally Chris Kreider participated in another practice while wearing the no-contact-jersey.
All in all, the Rangers made some nice moves today. They added a physical and quick-footed penalty killer in Powe and a nice prospect in Palmieri. They also called up an energetic and physical prospect in Miller and added a physical forward in Mashinter who will drop the gloves when needed.
These moves add speed, physicality and two-way mindedness to the bottom six and it should really allow the team to improve its PK. If the top six can continue to click over an extended period, the Rangers should be able to string some wins together as they look to play like the Stanley Cup contender they should be.