After last night’s loss to the Islanders, the Rangers decided to send Mats Zuccarello to the AHL and have subsequently called up Kris Newbury to replace him. Defenseman Brendan Bell was also recalled. Newbury had one assist in eleven games with the Rangers last year, while Bell would be making his Rangers debut if he gets a chance to play.
Zuccarello is not alone in lack of effectiveness but he is the easiest switch to make. He won’t have to pass through waivers to go to Connecticut and he could probably benefit from a bit more time in the AHL. Contrary to what some people think, I do not see this as the Rangers giving up on him. He is still only 24 years old, and being his 2nd season in North America, it’s not unfathomable that he could need more time. If Carl Hagelin or Ryan Bourque get called up before he does at any point this season then he’s in trouble, but right now it’s too early to make any judgments.
Newbury is not my ideal call-up but it’s hard not to justify it. Newbury has flat out dominated the AHL, with four goals and four assists in four games so far. I imagine that Boyle will be moving up to third line center, and Newbury will fill in on the fourth line. For the first time in the long time, the Rangers perhaps can afford to sacrifice skill to have a reliable and gritty player like Newbury in the lineup. It certainly could be a short term solution to the problems I cited with the bottom-six last night.
Brendan Bell being called up is not good news. It signals that Staal and Sauer are in doubt for the trip to the West Coast. I imagine that Bell will thus be serving as the spare defenseman for the trip. The only way we see him is if Woywitka plays himself out of the lineup or if we see further injuries on the blue-line.