‘Grim Rempe’ instilling fear in Rangers’ opponents, making case to stick around

NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are less than two weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline which is set for March 8 at 3 p.m. ET. As general manager Chris Drury considers what pieces he wants to add, the Blueshirts may already have found an answer for the fourth-line in rookie Matt Rempe.

The 21-year-old was taken by the Rangers in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft and signed his entry-level contract on Nov 3, 2021. At 6-foot-8 and 241 pounds, he can play center or wing, making him a very versatile forward for a coach to use.

Since being selected, the Calgary, Alberta native has forced the Rangers organization to notice him. Last season, Rempe played his first pro campaign with the Hartford Wolf Pack recording six goals, four assists and 10 points in 53 games. Prior to transition from juniors to the pros, he collected 30 goals and 29 assists for 59 points in 111games, all with the Seattle Thunder in the Western Hockey League.

In his second season with the Wolf Pack, Rempe cranked up his physical game and played some center. Prior to his call up, he notched 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 43 games with seven fighting majors.

Rempe started to raise eyebrows after a preseason win against the Islanders this past September. On one play, he took Isles’ defenseman Isiah George so heavily into the boards, that he needed some time on the bench to recover. If that wasn’t enough, Rempe fought heavyweight Ross Johnston and came away with a slight edge thanks to a few big righthand punches that knocked his opponent’s helmet off.

Rempe left the ice motioning the crowd to get loud. The energy translated into a Blake Wheeler goal just 32 seconds later. The big man finished the game with a shot, block, hit and an even rating in 9:27 of ice time.

“It’s unbelievable,” Rempe shared his views about fighting. “You’re showing courage trying to get the team going and it fires the guys up.”

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Matt Rempe is making the Rangers take notice

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe’s storybook start to his NHL career began by being the first player to debut in an outdoor game. And what a debut it was for the youngster, who fought Islanders veteran Matt Martin in front of 79,600 fans, then watched his team rally late for a 6-5 overtime win in the Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium.

His next game was just as eventful, delivering seven hits in his Madison Square Garden debut as the Rangers bested the Dallas Stars. The following contest against the New Jersey Devils witnessed a bomb of a hit on Nathan Bastian that earned him a match penalty and his first ejection. However, Rempe’s signature game to date came in a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

It started with a heavyweight tilt against Nicolas Deslauriers and ended with Rempe scoring his first NHL goal, which was the game winner.

“Maybe the ugliest first goal in NHL history, but I’ll take it,” Rempe said. “I felt something hit my shin pad pretty hard. I didn’t know it was the puck, but I’ll take it. Just go to the net, bang bodies, that’s my game.”

According to OptaStats, he’s the first NHL player to register 27+ penalty minutes and a game-winning goal within his first four career games.

Rempe is earning a fearsome reputation on the ice, and not just for his willingness to fight. He’s simply scary in many different ways because he can lay you out with a hit or occasionally pop in a goal thanks to his sheer size and speed.

The kid is just a few games into his NHL career, and teams are already aware of the Rangers’ Grim Rempe. It may be wise for coach Peter Laviolette and GM Chris Drury to keep him around.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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