Thoughts on claiming Matt Puempel

Matt Puempel

Yesterday, the Rangers made a surprising little move by claiming the 24th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, Matt Puempel. Without trying to make this more complex I truly see some good signs regarding this transaction, so lets get to some musings that have sprung from the waiver pick-up.

First and foremost lets get to the semantics, a couple of weeks ago the Rangers terminated Calle Andersson’s contract. In theory, Puempel just takes his slot and the Rangers still have a few spots open for trade flexibility or UDFA signings.

One thing that is also worth at the very least briefly discussing is that the Rangers just made a statement that they prioritize skill over grit and intangibles, at least on offense. We are starting to see them slow down a bit, largely attributed to the defense’s inability to move pucks out of the zone. But I believe they are truly taking pride in their fast style and will continue to build their team in this image. Puempel being picked up off of waivers, instead of calling up Tanner Glass, can even have the most pessimistic Rangers fans feeling a bit calmer that speed and skill are being prioritized for the forwards.

Puempel is truly a no risk transaction by the Rangers, I was originally more focused on his NHL impact but the Hartford Wolfpack may reap the benefits of his play if things don’t go well in the NHL. The Rangers are at the end of the waiver wire priority list, so most NHL clubs passed on him. It’s a fair assumption that he would clear waivers for the Rangers. Surely Hartford would love a guy who has shown to be a pretty nice producer at the AHL level.

If Puempel produces, then the Rangers would have a lot of options to work with. Oscar Lindberg is already starting to look expendable with the play of Josh Jooris.  If Puempel impresses, you have to feel that it is only a matter of time until Lindberg can be packaged with someone like Kevin Klein for a defensive upgrade.

So what’s the deal with Puempel? As a young prospect, he was always seen as a wonderful playmaker although he hasn’t been able to truly put points up in the NHL. But a little bit of digging into his advanced stats can show us that at the very least, he likely won’t be an anchor. This season Puempel played mostly with Chris Neil and Chris Kelly, yet he is 54.5% in shot attempts% so far this season. Not bad considering his linemates.

On top of being a good playmaker, he also has a quick shot. Makes you wonder if he will be able to put his skill together on a line with Brandon Pirri and Jesper Fast, which is light years better than his situation in Ottawa. According to, Puempel hasn’t been on ice for a goal at 5v5 this year. I’d venture a guess that this is largely due to those linemates. there is a void of offense there, making it pretty hard for a rookie forward with good skating to produce.

I spoke to a few people who watched him quite a bit in Ottawa, for the most part they said he is ok although it would be hard to imagine him getting a solid roster spot with the Rangers. That is fine for what the Rangers need, at this point he will provide some necessary depth. He will allow Boo Nieves to continue getting top line time in Hartford, and if the Rangers get lucky then it’s a home run. This is truly a low risk transaction that is already bringing the organization some rewards as they get to keep their options open.

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  • I got to watch quite a bit of Puempel for my hometown Binghamton Senators. Your point regarding linemates in Ottawa rings true for his time in Binghamton as well. This is not a strong organization depthwise. He has good skills and tremendous hustle. Should work out fine in NY and definitely help the woeful Wolfpack.

    • Good to see someone from Bingo on the Blog. I was a long-time Whalers and Ranger ticket holder before we headed South….

  • I have no issues with this move, especially given how often the injury bug has been biting the Rangers lately. This is a far cry from the signing of Paille last year for example – a move that even the most casual of fans would tell you most likely was not going to work out – and I agree that just to see them bring in someone with potential upside is progress from moves like the Paille experiment or simply giving a spot to Glass. We know who those guys are and there was never any upside to be had from them; Puempel is still a player with possibly-untapped upside. This move may not work out either, but it’s definitely a better gamble IMO than some of the moves we’ve seen in the recent past.

  • Smart move for sure. One of Slats’ favorite things to do as Rangers GM was to pick up guys like this, first round draft picks, in their mid 20s, that weren’t working out with their current teams. sure, most of them didn’t work out, but it’s always good process to bring in a player with upside for virtually nothing more than a small bit of cap space and a roster spot.

    Nothing wrong with bringing a player with a pedigree, like Matt Puempel, into the organization, especially when the cost is nothing. It sure beats calling up Glass to be the 13th FW, like I suggested right before the Puempel claim was announced.

  • As a Sens I hate it when people say that Puempel sucks. He hustles, delivers big hits, blocks shots and has a very good shot. He has lost all confidence due to the fact that he’s stuck with kelly and Neil who DO NOT CREATE OR OPEN ANY LANES FOR HIM TO SHOOT THE FRIGGIN PUCK THEY SUCK. NYR should work out for him because their bottom 6 is 100x better than ottawas. If it works out nyr hit the jackpot and if it doesn’t then if a very low risk.

      • Puempel definitely worth a look see, another Gorton high reward. low risk move. The guy is doing a heck of a job, one of Sathers best moves, hiring Gorton. Does anyone know the severity of Zibanejad broken leg???

        • Clean break of the fibula. No surgery required. Out 6-8 weeks. Under the circumstances, this is the best case scenario I’d say. No ligament or tendon damage. Will simply have to regain muscle strength in the legs once the injury heals.

    • That sounds really promising, but why would 26 (27?) other teams pass on him? Surely someone had to have an open roster spot. Anyway, I’d be thrilled if this works out.

      • Well every team has that one prospect trying to make a push for their respective team, so teams decide to pass on similar players on waiver to give their players confidence

  • I trust Gorton.
    Just reading something unrelated, I ran into Gorton’s track record as Boston interim GM for 3 months:

    Traded Raycroft for Rask.

    Drafted: Kessel, Lucic , Marchand (moved up for him).

    That’s insanely successful. And Boston fired him next year.

  • How could you expect a playmaker to actually score when playing on a line with Kelly and Neil.

    Solid pickup of a first round draft pick with talent wasting away in the sens org.

  • Funny……lots of positive comments for a 26/27 year old guy who has not succeeded at this level and was passed on by what 30 other teams….

    How many of you who made these comments said that mcilrath [ who has shown promise at the nhl level] was not any good because 30 other GM’s passed on him????????????

    • Rich, you are comparing apples and oranges. It’s one thing to be hopeful that Puempel might become a useful piece of the puzzle one day (which is all anyone is doing out here). It’s another thing entirely when you and the other “Minions” go totally off the deep end and say AV hates the kids, doesn’t know talent, is too stubborn….blah blah blah, all because he sat the kid for what, half the games he was physically capable of playing in? And for that, that proves to some that AV is a bad coach and should be fired. Seriously?

      Btw, I see your boy is sitting yet again tonight, this time vs the Flyers of all teams. If he can’t play vs the Flyers, then when? Isn’t that what we heard all of last season? 7 games as a Panther….one game played. Guess Gallant is even more “clueless” than AV is. Heck, at least AV played him from time to time!

      Interesting quote from Gallant the other day on the legendary Undertaker….

      “He has to work on his foot speed, he’s been told that before. That’s something that’s going to have to get better. When he gets his opportunity, he’s going to have to make the most of it.”

      Doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, does it?

      Just as the Rangers did with Puempel, the Panthers took a flyer on a borderline AHL/NHL player who maybe could become something, but no one is holding their breath.

      • Eddie, disagree with you on Mcllrath, he will be a solid NHL D-man.He did have a bad game in his Panther debut , but he will be get better, with adequate playing time.. I do like us claiming Puempel, potential to be a steal. Eddie, I do not see Walt posting anymore??, I miss his knowledge and wit. I hope he is OK?.

        • Bobby, you may be right. Nothing is set in stone about a player’s trajectory. It’s been said often that defensemen have the steepest development curve, especially big guys like McIlrath. So yes, I concede he COULD one day become a solid NHL d-man. My point is that TODAY, he most definitely is not and there is no indication that any other organization believes he is or is even close to being that.

          As for Walt, he and I have had our disagreements, but I miss him as well. I hope he is ok and will return soon. He did say he was going to not comment until 20 games in, so I expect we should hear from him anytime now.

          Not referring to Walt specifically, but it does seem that some of the negative-oriented posters have decided to lay low until or unless the Rangers start tanking. 🙂

      • Oh Eddie………. Eddie, Eddie, Eddie! How dare you offend the “Undergiver”! You just wait and see…….. in 2019, when he’s with his 5th organization, he is gonna throw that THUNDEROUS CHECK that will make the Rangers regret the day they gave up on him.

        We all know how much he wanted to play in that game at the Garden when Florida came to town and most coaches would have afforded the kid the opportunity……. but his previous performance was so bad that the ALMIGHTY GALLANT couldn’t even justify putting him on the ice.

  • Sorry eddie, you cant have it both ways…..
    it is hypocritical of you in your silly argument to endorse signing peumpel yet use the same argument to NOT keep mcilrath…….??????????
    Besides, I never said AV hates kids…..In my opinion ,I believe ,he just has favorites and is a poor evaluator of talent and an even poorer coach when it comes to the utilization of talent……which explains why he has gone into the playoffs as number one or two seed with the canuks and rangers with arguably the best two goalies [lunquist and Luongo] yet constantly loses and gets outplayed……
    Explain this to me genius……who was the better player last year mcilrath or girardi ????????? [ you are allowed to look up the stats ]

    • Hey rich s, I miss the big guy ( Mcllrath ) too !! I will stick to my guns, cutting him loose will come back to haunt the Rangers, He will be a solid NHL D-Man in the NHL. This has Mark Tinordi 2 written all over it. Last year was the year he could have taken a Giant step forward, AV played his Girardi, Boyle cards, when Dylan was clearly the better option. I feel Mcllrath thought he earned a spot in the top 6 coming into this season, but once he saw the continued love affair with Girardi, then the Holden & Clendening acquisitions, the Kid played too tight, lost confidence, thinking one mistake and I am toast..

    • Rich, may I respectfully suggest you actually READ what I wrote before making claims of hypocrisy. When did I endorse the signing of Peumpel? I am totally ambivalent when it comes to players on the margins like him, Clendening, McIlrath, etc. Sure, you can get lucky and catch a little lightning in a bottle. But I really have no opinion on him-except to say that Gorton has done a phenomenal job retooling this roster. Based on what we’ve seen this year, I’d gamble on his instincts. It’s a low risk move, so why not?

      As for keeping McIlrath, again, I was fine with him staying as a 7D guy. Heck, I assumed he’d have had a chance at a top 6 role this year. But again, Gorton, who everyone has praised for his moves this year, obviously felt differently. So he went out and got Holden and Clendening, which was a clear indicator that they weren’t really sure if McIlrath was ready. McIlrath did not have a good camp, and essentially, that was that.

      I find it amusing that you so easily dismiss the fact that all 29 teams passed on him. A big bruising right handed defesmemen? A rare commodity that you’d think just about anyone would want. Everyone, even teams with substantial cap space, said “no thanks”. If this kid was as indispensable as some have suggested he is, why in the world wouldn’t someone have claimed him? Answer…..because he’s not that good….not yet. Even Gallant acknowledged the other day….he’s too slow. So are you saying you and the other “Minions” are right and every other NHL coach and executive are wrong?

      Ok, the other points you make…

      “He has favorites”–show me a coach who doesn’t. Show me any person who manages a team (sports or otherwise) that doesn’t. A coach’s job is to win, so his “favorites” are the people who can help him do that. Nothing wrong with that. Keenan played favorites. Torts played favorites. Joe Torre played favorites. Bill Parcells played favorites. What’s your point?

      “Poor evaluator and poor utilization of talent”–I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again. Examples please. All the “talented” kids that he didn’t play in Vancouver turned out to be not very good. How many players did AV give up on that have come back to haunt the team? I can’t think of one.

      As for his playoff record, he’s won as many playoff series as Rangers coach in three seasons as HOFer Emile Francis won in a decade. Only Lester Patrck has won more. How does he constantly lose? And last I checked, it’s players that get outplayed not coaches.

      In 2011, Luongo was awful and Tim (Conn Smythe) Thomas put on what was arguably the best exhibition of SC Finals goaltending in the post-lockout era. How exactly is that on the coach?

      In his first two years as a Ranger, he took a team that NO ONE expected was going anywhere to the SCF, where they lost to a far superior Kings team. Then the following year, he loses Zuc, virtually the entire defense is riddled with significant injuries that lingered into the next season, and they lose to an emerging power in TB in 7 games. Again, how is that on the coach? Other than Hank, show me the HOF talent he’s had to work with compared to the other legit contenders.

      McIlrath vs Girardi–better player? You have somewhat of a valid point on this one. Girardi wasn’t good last year. I liked what I saw of McIlrath, but not to the point where you and others went–he MUST play or the coach is an idiot and should be fired. AV played him in sheltered minutes. He wasn’t exposed often to having to deal with the Ovechkins and Crosbys of the world. So stats are deceiving in this case.

      And again, you still dodge the question. If McIlrath were as good as you say, why did NO ONE pick him up on waivers? Answer–he’s not that good at the moment, and no rational person could surmise that the Rangers would have been a better team if he had only played more. Indeed, the Rangers had a substantially worse record when DMC was in the lineup vs when he was in the press box.

      That’s reality.

  • Hello Bobby B,

    Not sure whats going to happen in the Flyers game on friday?? Do you think the flyers try the rough stuff on our ‘soft ‘ team?

    I noticed ‘letang’ was up to his old tricks last night with a nice head shot to lindberg……which of course went unpenalized by the refs and unanswered to by our ‘soft’ rangers team……

    Yup, i miss mcilrath and stu bickel and rupp and prust and orr etc …..

    Agree with the tinordi/mcilrath comparison……

    • Yeah….it all went unanswered. We only rallied back and won 5-2. Would have been much better if we retaliated, got a major penalty, maybe lose the momentum and the game. Much better for the Rangers to channel their inner Ogie Ogelthorpe and forget about winning games. Because we certainly have seen how physically imposing the last two SC Champions (Hawks and Pens) were. Or not.

      None of the players mentioned above…Bickel, Rupp, Prust and Orr….would likley be playing on a team with legit Cup hopes in today’s game. You are wishing for something that is quickly being phased out.

    • rich s, a justified concern, was it not only a year ago that Simonds sucker punched McDonagh, giving him a concussion. Did not Gudos welcome Vesey to the Flyers brand of hockey with a hit from behind. Both times we had the Mcllrath bullet in the chamber to answer back, not anymore. Look, I know the days of the bench clearing brawls/ 74-75 Flyers broad street bullies no longer exist. But, till this day I am haunted that the 74 Ranger team ( a more superior talented hockey team than the Flyers) were bullied and physically beaten into submission. As a fan I never want to experience that again. So I repeat, I feel that their should always be one player on each roster who can play the game of hockey, but also answer the bell if the opposition turns to play old school hockey. I felt Mcllrath was that guy, obviously my thoughts mean nothing, the powers at be made a decision, lets move on. But ,I WILL CONTINUE TO PLEAD FOR ONE PLAYER WHO CAN ANSWER THE BELL WHEN NEEDED,WE CURRENTLY DO NOT HAVE THAT PLAYER ON THIS ROSTER. EVANDER KANE IS AVAILABLE!!!

      • Bobby, I know you are student of Rangers history, but I fear you’ve fallen victim to the mythos of what happened on Sunday, May 5th, 1974 as opposed to the reality of what happened. First of all, I’m not sure what you are basing your statement on that the Rangers were better than the Flyers that year? The Flyers were a 109 pt team. The Rangers were merely a 94 pt team.

        You mentioned the Rangers were bullied and beaten into submission. Well, that’s the urban legend anyway. The reality is this was a tightly played series where the home team won every game. I’ll concede that yes, the Spectrum in that day and age was one of the best home ice advantages in the league,mand as a building was intimidating. But if the Rangers were so terrified of the Flyers, how did they manage to win all three games at MSG, including a dominating performance when facing elimination in Game 6?

        Ok, Game 7. The famous Rolfe-Schultz fight happened in the 1st period. Scoreless game. Ever check out the YouTube video? Who was on the ice at the time for the Rangers? Three HOFers (Ratelle, Gilbert and Park) and a pretty dynamic player named Vic Hadfield. Who was on the ice for the Flyers? I couldn’t make them all out, but I saw Kindrachuk (marginal player) Jimmy Watson (good player) and Don Saleski (marginal player). What did you expect the Rangers to do there exactly? You think the Flyers wouldn’t have loved to make that trade off and get those Rangers out of the game?

        While Dale Rolfe was getting beat up he told Park to “Stay away”. I have no doubt that decision was done by design by Schultz, knowing who was out there, and hoping the Rangers would take the bait, which they smartly didn’t (even though I admit that at the time, the optics looked awful and the Rangers looked like wimps). Schultz was quoted a couple of years ago. He said, “it was Game 7. No way they could risk getting tossed”. He knew exactly what he was doing.

        Want to know how “intimidated” the Rangers were? Less than two minutes after the fight that supposedly “intimidated” them, Billy Fairbarn gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Want to know what changed the momentum after that? Walter Tkaczuk took an ill advised penatly. Flyers scored on the PP.

        The Rangers had six PP chances in that game. SIX! And came up empty time after time. That actually was THE reason the Rangers lost. The Flyers were in the box constantly during the series, and the Rangers were 2 for 47 with the man advantage. That’s why they lost the series. Not because of the most overblown fight in history. Total myth.

        And I’d like to point out that the Flyers then beat the Big Bad Bruins in 6 in the SCF. Maybe Boston was even more intimidated than NY was. Or maybe, the Flyers were just the better team that year.

        Now, let’s address more current matters. First of all, did McIlrath’s presence prevent Stepan’s rib injury last year? No. Did his presence do anything to stop Vesey from getting plastered in pre-season? No. What answer do you want the Rangers to give exactly that applies to the modern game? No one is intimidated my McIlrath. NO ONE. It’s a myth.

        And I disagree on the “answer the bell” player. Who on the Hawks, Pens or Bolts fits that criteria?

        If need be, I have no doubt the Rangers can respond if the situation calls for it. It just doesn’t happen much anymore to justify the roster spot.

        And Evander Kane is a criminal. Thanks but no thanks. (sounds like the Isles are interested though)

        We disagree Bobby, but I always enjoy discussing Rangers history with you!

        • Eddie, WOW, spectacular information, I never knew the full story of that 7th game, but now I do.,THANKS. I never knew we were 0-6 on the power play, I do remember the Flyer goalie ( Bernie Parent ) being amazing at times vs the Rangers and then the Bruins. I remember the Flyers had a forward named Gary Dornhoffer who was always in the Rangers crease through out that series, making Eddie Giacomin’s life miserable. Dornhoffer has stated that he felt Shultzs actions in game 7 sealed the fate of the Rangers? I do remember game 6, when Shultz tried to rough up Rod Gilbert on a face off when the game was well in the Rangers control. Ranger coach Emile Francis immediately sent Ron Harris over the boards, to counter act that, and both Dupont & Shultz were not as eager to mix with Harris.. Thus my views of having that guy around who could keep things honest. Eddie, gotta grab a beer with you one day, and chat Ranger history, know one knows it better than you!!!

          • That would be fun Bobby!

            As for Dornhoffer, I suspect what he was saying is that the fight energized the Spectrum crowd big time, and the team fed off of that. The Flyers were talented, tough and very dominant at home.

            But again, if the Rangers had simply capitalized on their PP chances, that’s how you retaliate and keep a team honest. Rangers didn’t. Flyers win.

  • Zib hurt
    Buch hurt

    Yeah, low risk signing for a kid that has goal scoring ability.

    I understand the skepticism for this signing in saying that the kid hasn’t done anything but may I remind you that you have to look at where they came from. Grabner played on a horrible Leafs team and how is doing now? The whole league passed on signing him, turned out pretty well, no?

    Pirri was getting healthy scratched in Anaheim after being traded by the Cats, another good signing, no?

    I’m not saying that Pumpernickel will do well but he came from an absolutely horrible offensive team, meaning the Sens. Sometimes playing with better players helps.

    Again, low risk and maybe you catch lightening in a bottle. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They waive him.

  • Richter1994, its amazing how sometimes a player gets a fresh start, adequate playing time, and he takes off. I like the Puempel signing , AV has publicly said he will be given a chance!! This year its been Grabner for the NYR, last year it was Lee Stempniak ( who could not get a sniff with the Rangers) but was a goal scoring machine for the Devils, go figure!!

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