The New York Rangers made multiple headlines today for the acquisition of veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik off waivers, and for the released injury update on Marc Staal.
Hamrlik was put on waivers by the Washington Capitals and the Rangers decided to claim him regardless of the injury to Staal. Staal is currently out indefinitely but he is expected to make a full recovery.
This was a very underrated move by General Manager Glen Sather, and one that should help the team immediately.
One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Rangers was a bottom-pairing defensemen, and the average ice time per game for defenders like Matt Gilroy, Steve Eminger and Stu Bickel this season tells you how badly the team needed to address this.
While Hamrlik is no longer the player he was in his prime, he was able to play a significant role for the Washington Capitals during the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hamrlik also brings a veteran presence and the ability to eat up valuable minutes. He can kill penalties and play the point on the power play. The Rangers' power play has been improving over the past few games, and adding Hamrlik's potent point shot should only help and not hurt the Blueshirts.
The veteran defender is in the final year of a two-year contract that pays him $3.5 million, but the value of this contract against the cap will dwindle as the trade deadline approaches.
In New York he will fill a niche role, and that is perfect for Hamrlik. He has been a healthy scratch for 16 of 20 games for Washington this season, and he should be very motivated to play for an established playoff contender.
He is currently averaging 15:06 a game, and that is a nice number for the Rangers.
This move is in many ways similar to the acquisition of Darroll Powe from Minnesota in the sense that it is a low risk move that addressed a big need for the Rangers.
With Hamrlik a member of the team, you can expect the bottom pairing to get some more ice time, and that will keep workhorse defenders like Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi fresher throughout the game.
This was not a move to replace Staal, but when you consider that he could miss a few games, it is one that Sather should be applauded for.