The Rangers found their way back to a win on Saturday night in Tampa thanks to a big goal from Rick Nash, but that wasn't enough to quell their increasingly apparent displeasure with the way their forwards have performed so far this season.
Mick Rupp has been dealt to the Wild for forwards Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri, a move that injects some new blood into the lineup by trading a player who has barely been seeing the ice for John Tortorella of late. Palmieri's ticketed for the minors at the moment, but Powe should wind up seeing a fair amount of ice time thanks to his ability to kill penalties and block shots.
Those are qualities that Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko both brought to the team last year and qualities that weren't adequately replaced on the roster. Rupp was good for a fight and had his moments for the team last season (two goals in the Winter Classic.) But the team needs guys who bring a little bit more to the table at this point.
There's a criticism of Glen Sather in that absence of toughness because the team needed a forward like Powe a lot more than they needed to sign a player like Aaron Asham whose only skill is getting into a fight. The criticism extends to the players, though.
Ryan Callahan's injury further exposed the limited growth made by Carl Hagelin and Brian Boyle this offseason. Both of them were players the Rangers were counting on to step into the roles vacated by the departed free agents.
Make no mistake, Powe isn't going to radically alter the trajectory of the Rangers this season. Neither was Rupp, though, and this deal is a message that being a part of last year's team isn't going to buy you any extra time to figure things out with the Rangers staggering more than they'd like in the first month of the season.
That message was repeated for Chris Kreider, still sidelined by an ankle injury and told by Tortorella today that there's no guarantee he'll be back in the lineup when he's healthy. The team also recalled 2011 first-round pick J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter from the AHL, adding bodies to battle for time in the lineup as the Rangers try to find the right collection of guys to get them rolling during the rush to the finish.
It's not the way they drew things up, but, then, it seldom is in the NHL.