Per Larry Brooks, there will be no hearing for Rick Nash for his hit on Tomas Kopecky from last night (video below). The reason that the league gave is that initial contact was at Kopecky’s back, not his head. Honestly, this is a huge break for the Rangers. Nash should have been suspended.
In a bit of shocking news, the Rangers have placed center Jeff Halpern on waivers (per Darren Dreger). In 30 games with the Rangers, Halpern notched just one assist with a -5 rating. Halpern is currently the Rangers one of the Rangers top faceoff guys, winning 56.7% of his draws. Halpern’s ice time had diminished a lot lately, getting just three minutes of ice time in last night’s loss to Florida.
The move likely signals that Arron Asham is ready to return to the lineup. But the interesting thing here is that with Halpern out, the Rangers are going to need to do some line shuffling. Expect J.T. Miller to move to center on the third line, and Brian Boyle to be shifted to the fourth line center role (where he belongs). Also look for Taylor Pyatt to be moved to the third line, with the returning Asham to slide into a fourth line role.
The Rangers have recalled rookie Chris Kreider from the AHL after a one month stay with the Whale. Kreider, who was sent to Connecticut on February 28, scored six goals and added an assist in eight games since the demotion. Kreider seemed more confident with the puck and was making better decisions without the puck, which was a big part of the reason for his demotion.
To make room for Kreider on the NHL roster, Micheal Haley was returned to the AHL. Haley, who was called up to the Rangers on March 5, played nine games with the Rangers, finished his run with zero points and 12 PIMs and a -1 rating.
Per Bob McKenzie, the Rangers have claimed defenseman Roman Hamrlik off waivers from the Washington Capitals. It is unknown whether the Rangers claimed him before or after the Marc Staal injury, as they definitely had a need for a depth defenseman before Staal’s freak injury.
Hamrlik, 38, skated in just four games with the Caps, notching an assist. Last season, Hamrlik skated in 68 contests with Washington, finishing with a scoring line of 2-11-13. Using his 2011-2012 metrics, he is still functional in his own end, with a 4.5 GVT (4.7 DGVT). He also finished last season with a -.061 QoC, 7.8 RCorsi (0.26 CorsiON), and 46.8% OZone start. These metrics all suggest competence in his own end, which is what the Rangers need at the moment.
Update: Per Pat Leonard, Richards is almost certainly not playing tonight.
Original Post: The Rangers have recalled forward Micheal Haley for tonight’s game against the Flyers. This is for one of two reasons: 1) Brad Richards cannot go tonight, or 2) Haley will replace Stu Bickel in the lineup to provide better skating without losing that edge.
In 56 games in the AHL with Connecticut this year, Haley has a line of 9-12-21 with 158 PIMs.
The Rangers have signed forward Josh Nicholls –20 years old– to an entry-level deal, confirmed by Seth Rothman of Inside Hockey (side note: A great follow if you aren’t already). Nicholls is Rangers’ prospect Shane McColgan’s teammate with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. The 6’2, 185 lb winger was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 7th round in 2010, but they let his rights expire last year.
This year with Saskatoon, Nicholls has 41 goals and 73 points in 65 games. Nicholls’ deal will be a three-year entry-level deal. Pension Plan Puppets (Leafs blog) notes that Nicholls also suffered a knee injury, which may have played into why the Leafs didn’t tender a contract.
The Rangers have sent Chris Kreider back to the AHL’s Connecticut Whale, a move that was widely expected once the Rangers got healthy. Kreider was sent down last week, but was immediately recalled due to the Rick Nash “concussion” and played while he was out. With Nash back, Kreider can return to the Whale to work on his play without the puck.
It is important for Kreider to get top line minutes with Connecticut, as that is something he wouldn’t be getting from the Rangers at the moment.
Brandon Mashinter was returned to the AHL this morning after playing four games for the Rangers. Mash finished with a -2 rating, 7 hits, and 1 blocked shot in extremely limited playing time. Returning Mash to the AHL leaves the Rangers with 11 forwards, so it is likely that Rick Nash, the player who was on IR, will be reactivated for tomorrow’s game.
Speaking of Nash, he participated in practice today in a full-contact jersey. Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto also participated in practice, also with full-contact jerseys.
The Rangers returned Christian Thomas to the AHL today following practice. Returning Thomas was a paperwork thing, as Darroll Powe returned to practice, and was presumably taken off IR. In his one game –his NHL debut– Thomas played a little under 13 minutes, and finished with 2 shots and 3 hits.
The Rangers also sent Scott Stajcer back to the ECHL.
In a surprising move, the Rangers recalled F Christian Thomas from the CT Whale on Friday night. With Arron Asham, Darroll Powe and Rick Nash all on the shelf, the Rangers had to play Stu Bickel at forward against Ottawa. The team may be looking to avoid that situation again by giving Thomas a shot at the show.
Thomas has been red hot for the Whale and has posted 13 goals and 11 assists in 52 games this season. He’s obviously an offensive-minded guy and could provide another righty shot on the power play. Lord knows the Blueshirts are desperate for solutions in that department, so why not give Thomas a shot?
The knock on the 20-year-old has always been his size. Drafted as the 40th pick overall in 2010, Thomas tore up the OHL with the Oshawa Generals. He has struggled a bit in the American League until recently and there’s some doubt that Thomas will become an NHL regular largely due to his 5-foot-9, 170 lb. stature.