As of a week ago, the New York Rangers still had plenty of offensive spots open from losses this summer that were not filled. Many expected the younger players in the farm system to get a good look during camp with the opportunity to make the team to start the season. That still may be the case. However, bringing in Matthew Lombardi and Lee Stempniak not only provides players to fill in those positions right now, but also provides good depth and different skill-sets to bring into Alain Vigneault‘s speed, puck-moving system.
Mathew Lombardi, as of last week, was just about to head back to Switzerland with his family to prepare for the upcoming season before Glen Sather and the Rangers called. Between Dominic Moore and Lombardi, who has also played a winger in his career, the Rangers now have a 3 and 4 center plus JT Miller (who can also play wing) and Oscar Lindberg. This will help provide a better depth chart in case of injury or inconsistent play for someone to step in. Lombardi will bring plenty of speed, penalty killing abilities, and can really fit in anywhere. AV knows he is bringing a good guy into the locker room that can fill plenty of needs and the signing is low-risk, solid reward for the Rangers. This signing will help not only the depth chart, but the team as well over the course of the season.
The Stempniak signing is a real good one. He was once regarded as a top six forward in the NHL, however, never really maintained that level of play. He does replace a critical role as a 3rd line player for the Ranger and can fill in an upper-line void in a pinch. Stempniak has had at least 12 goals in 8 of his 9 NHL seasons and has netted 20 a few times. Compared to what Benoit Pouliot signed for in Edmonton, the Rangers will get a great replacement player for cheap at $900K.
The Rangers may look quite a bit different at this point, but all the moves they have made are for Vigneault to work with. The Rangers were and still are a bit cash-strapped, but they have made the most of their signings so far, leaving room to make sure all the RFA’s return next season as well. Lombardi and Stempniak are good replacements on the cheap and will work in the Rangers system.