Amid the hysteria of Traverse City (and rightly so, given the results so far) as well as the expectancy placed on more fashionable Rangers forwards such as Richards and Gaborik is a man that has come to the Rangers without much fanfare. Mike Rupp could become a good weapon for the Rangers in more ways than one.
Rupp’s first job as a Ranger apparently will be to ease the burden of the enforcer role that has weighed heavy on Brandon Prust’s shoulders. Prust has too often played injured because the man simply doesn’t back down which while being commendable could become counterproductive given his increasing affectivity.
Prust has been a revelation since arriving to New York as a throw-in, but Mike Rupp has the potential to have a similar effect. Blessed with great size and a decent scoring touch, Rupp can play both the physical game as well as contribute on the ice. He has the potential to be another under the radar addition if he pans out well; much like Prust, Fedotenko, and Boyle in recent times.
With all the focus on the Rangers kids in Traverse and the announcement (of the worst kept secret in NY hockey) that Ryan Callahan was to be made captain players like Rupp will have been able to go about their business and prepare for the season relatively unnoticed, something that will benefit players entering the new year.
Rupp’s last two seasons in Pittsburgh resulted in 17 and 19 point seasons, which is pretty solid stuff for someone that in all likelihood will be a fourth liner in New York. Rupp does have potential to produce more, and if he does, he’ll certainly add to the depth of the club. Physically speaking, Rupp has hit 120 penalty minutes each of the last three seasons so you know he likes to play the game using his massive frame.
Brandon Prust also wasn’t a heavy scorer before he came to New York, but has since flirted with 30 points and become a real threat on the penalty kill. While Rupp may not be the same kind of player on the PK, don’t rule out a guy that has a 13 goal season and a 6’5 230lb body being used in front of the net on the power play. Make no mistake, Rupp is a massive body and if the Rangers want to ‘go big’; having guys like Rupp and Brian Boyle will certainly allow them to.
The only minor knock on the Rupp signing was the slightly generous contract, but it’s not likely to be a big burden for someone that can legitimately hope to score double figure goal totals each season, given the opportunity. Mike Rupp could be a great, underrated signing and if he comes close to the impact Brandon Prust has had, then he’ll become a great addition and the Rangers will be well set throughout the line-up.