Adam Edstrom and Matt Rempe proving they belong.

When the Rangers spent 6th round draft picks on Adam Edstrom (2019) and Matt Rempe (2020), they were viewed as questionable choices given size and perceived lack of skill. Perhaps this is a conditioned effect of being a Rangers fan, passing over skill guys for the prototypical “big guy punch hard” player. Of course, we’ve seen that both Edstrom and Rempe belong, and we couldn’t have been more wrong.

To be clear, the initial reaction had nothing to do with the players, and more the strategy. In a league looking to get faster and more skilled, the Rangers took two guys who, again at the time of the draft, did not fit that mold. Add in that the entire Euro scouting staff, which drafted Edstrom, was let go once Chris Drury cleaned house, and there’s some logic.

But through the first 6 games for Rempe and 9 for Edstrom, both kids have shown they belong. Both have contributed offensively to the tune of 2 points each through their first cup of coffee in the NHL. But more importantly, they are showing an ability to completely dominate while out there, at least in the right matchup.

Last night, that duo –and Barclay Goodrow– put up an astounding 95% xG share, which is almost unheard of. Grain of salt required of course, since it’s a one game sample against a bottom feeder with very little depth, but still they did their job exceedingly well. Both have an offensive touch for literal giants, and both can get back and cover on defense.

Rempe has received most of the attention thanks to his unique ability to be a joy on the ice and still challenge seemingly everyone to a fight. He’s a type of player we haven’t seen in the NHL in ages. Edstrom is more low key, but he can deliver some big hits, as he did in the SHL. Both were solid contributors to the Hartford Wolf Pack this season as well.

If things pan out and both players hit their ceilings, then we might be looking at two-thirds of a new-age shutdown line. They can skate, play in all three zones, hit, fight, and hopefully shut down the best there is. But that is a big, big IF.

We are expecting both Edstrom and Rempe to be returned to Hartford after the trade deadline, but that move is not indicative of their play at the NHL level. It’s clear they belong, and returning them to Hartford would be about limiting the number of rookies on a team built for a Cup run. Rest assured, both will be with the Rangers next season.


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