Crack Open A Heikkinen: Rangers Recall D Ilkka Heikkinen From Wolf Pack

Tonight's Healthy ScratchesCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2009

The moves continued today for the New York Rangers.

The Rangers will insert free-agent acquisition Ilkka Heikkinen—the most recent of a string of recalls—into the lineup Saturday night to replace D Wade Redden.

Redden, who has missed the previous three games with a shoulder injury, was ruled out of action for Saturday after coach John Tortorella deemed that he looked "uncomfortable" at practice.

Heikkinen, 25, was signed during the offseason after competing in Finland for six seasons.

Through 24 games in Hartford, Heikkinen has tallied five goals and 11 assists.

Any help for the Rangers inconsistent defense would be extremely welcoming.

Heikkinen ranked third amongst all defensemen in points last season in Finland, so hopefully he will at least be able to pitch in a few points while he's here.

Of course this depends on his play, but I would have no gripes with Heikkinen remaining on the roster for the rest of the season.

Heikkinen might be a rookie, but much like Matt Gilroy, he is far from your ordinary rookie.

As previously mentioned, Heikkinen has six seasons under his belt and is 25-years old—prime age for defensemen.

It's not as if the Rangers defensive corps is overwhelming with production.

The Rangers are currently 24th in the league for goals against. A far cry from the where they were last season—sixth overall.

Much of this could be attributed to the run-and-gun style implemented by Tortorella, a totally different strategy than what was used by his predecessor Tom Renney.

Let's not forget that up until last week—when rookie Bobby Sanguinetti filled in for Redden—the Rangers had only used six defensemen. Normally teams carry at least seven pointmen on the roster.

Of those six defenesemen, two are rookies (Michael Del Zotto, and Matt Gilroy), and one is Michal Rozsival...

Not to mention, Dan Girardi's subpar play early in the season and Marc Staal's adjustment to becoming more offensively aware has haltered his defense.

All of these are factors in the Rangers atrocious defensive equation.

Moving Heikkinen from Hartford to New York was not an easy task, however.

Due to backup goaltender Steve Valiquette being sent down for what Tortorella is calling "conditioning," and G Chad Johnson being brought up along with the acquisition of C Erik Christensen off of waivers from the Ducks, Brandon Dubinsky was moved to the LTIR.

Moving Dubinsky to the long-term injured reserve allowed a forward from the current roster to not be waived to clear cap space for Heikkinen to come up.

Do you know what a much easier solution to this cap problem would be?


His contract, along with Redden and Drury's, has been crippling the Rangers ability to adjust.

Of course there is no team out there that will take on Rozsival's ridiculous contract, but there is no reason why he can't be sent down to the Wolf Pack, and hey, if somebody claims him on the way down...oh well! And if he does clear waivers, well, then he can finish his service in Hartford.

To say his performance has been horrible is an insult to the word horrible.