Matt Rempe sticking around after Rangers’ deadline deals

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Trade Deadline is behind the New York Rangers, and to the pleasant surprise of many, rookie Matt Rempe appears to be sticking around. On Friday, the Rangers sent down Adam Edstrom but opted to keep Rempe with the team. Per head coach Peter Laviolette, he will be in the lineup when they host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Newly acquired forwards Alexander Wennberg and Jack Roslovic will make their Blueshirts’ debut in the top-nine, but that doesn’t impact where Rempe slots on the fourth line centered by Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey on the opposite flank. For now, that puts Jonny Brodzinski in street clothes.

“We’ll try to get guys games here and keep them in the lineup,” Laviolette said. “It could be based on the opponent and who we might need inside that game. Anytime there’s change to a team, there’s going to be some movement.”

While Laviolette and his staff work out a rotation, one thing is clear, Rempe has made a serious impression.

Related: Rangers add depth defenseman

Matt Rempe sticking around with Rangers

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe-mania has swept the Rangers, as he’s captured the hearts of fans due to his toughness and willingness to drop the gloves with anyone. The last time a gritty player of similar skillset immediately grabbed their admiration was probably when Sean Avery wreaked havoc almost every time he took the ice after a trade from the Kings in 2007.

During the Rangers 10 game winning streak, their hot play was sometimes overshadowed by the 6-foot-8 sized forward from Calgary, Alberta. It started in his historic NHL debut, by being the first player to play his first game outdoors against the New York Islanders.

In that 6-5 comeback OT win, he fought Isles heavyweight Matt Martin and has generated a buzz ever since. That was followed by obliterating Flyers tough guy Nicolas Deslauriers and scoring his first NHL goal, a game-winner to boot.

After being wobbled by Columbus’ Mathieu Olivier, retired enforcer John Scott had some advice for the kid to better protect himself. Rempe took Scott reaching out to heart and did extremely well against Leafs’ Ryan Reaves, who is considered today’s best enforcer.

β€œHe’s seems to be a really nice, humble kid,” Reaves said. β€œHe’s gonna be a menace in this League.”

Rempe is not just all fists. A north-south player with decent speed, he’s already laid out New Jersey’s Nathan Bastian and Toronto’s Ilya Lyubushkin with bone-crushing hits. It’s for all these reasons the Rangers want him here and will maybe even utilize him in the playoffs.

Rempe could be a playoff factor

Last year’s Rangers team was overloaded with talent, yet in four of the last five games they played against an equally-talented Devils’ team, they fell completely flat.

The lifeless 2022-23 Rangers got shutout in two of those losses and only scored one goal in each of the other two. If talent could not motivate them out of that deep hole, and coaching clearly did not either, then what could have sparked them to overcome their Hudson River rival? Perhaps a monster forward with a mean streak may have swiftly changed momentum as things began to turn bad. Enter Matt Rempe, who may be precisely what the Rangers need in these upcoming playoffs.

As it stands, the NHL’s Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Rangers will inevitably have very stiff competition through three rounds in order to play for Lord Stanley’s great prize. If the Rangers were to fall into a lull as they did against New Jersey last season, a Rempe hit or fight could be just the thing to turn their fortunes around.

However, the downside to having a young and inexperienced player with a limited skillset means reducing your bench. If the Rangers find themselves in too many tight games, as the playoffs usually go, shortening the bench could lead to a very exhausted team the further they go.

Rempe suiting up in the playoffs is a risk, but the reward could be great. It will all depend on how he performs down the stretch to see if he can gain Laviolette’s trust.

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