Earlier today the New York Rangers announced that they had claimed defensemen Roman Hamrlik from the Washington Capitals off waivers.
Hamrlik, 38 years old, has spent his career playing all across the league for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and most recently the Capitals.
A former 1st overall pick in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Hamrlik has played in 1,383 career games over 20 seasons. With a career stat line of 155 goals and 483 assists 1,402 penalty minutes, he is a solid veteran offensive defenseman. Since the 1995-1996 season, the teams Hamrlik has played on has been in the playoff 14/16 of those seasons – most recently being last season with the Capitals.
Heading into the playoffs last year for the Capitals, Hamrlik was their leader in plus/minus rating with a +8 rating through the first two rounds. He was also second on the team in blocked shots in those series tallying 37 of them through the first two rounds.
Hamrlik can fit into the John Tortorella system if he can manage to stay healthy and be an effective penalty killer. Another veteran on a power play would never hurt, either. His career high for power play goals in a season is 12 which occurred in the 1995-1996 season. Although it was many years ago, he can still potentially be effective on the point on the Rangers power play. During his career in Montreal, Hamrlik averaged from 2:33-1:33 on the power play each night.
Before being placed on waivers, Hamrlik averaged just above 15 minutes a night of ice-time with the Capitals this season and has 1 point in 4 games played. But this is a player who can easily handle over 20 minutes a game on a consistent basis – which will be necessary in the absence of Marc Staal.
He has spent most of this season as a healthy scratch for the Capitals with their younger defensemen really starting to blossom in Washington. With guys like Kundratek, Schultz, Carlson, Green and Alzner in the top six for the Capitals, there was really no room for Hamrlik.
The Rangers were the first team to jump on the waiver bid for him, and it was a smart move by Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather. Hamrlik will add solid minutes on the second or third pairing for the Rangers and he will most likely be paired with either Anton Stralman or Steve Eminger. While the Rangers already have great defensive depth, the addition of Hamrlik will make absorbing injuries on the blue line all the more easier.
While the Rangers claiming Hamrlik was purely coincidental to the injury of Staal, it’s no secret that the third line of defense for the Rangers leaves much to be desired. Tortorella has constantly been rotating out players like Eminger, Stu Bickel and Matt Gilroy every game, not finding a solid pair to lock in. This move in fact may solidify who Steve Eminger will be paired with on the third line leaving Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman in the top four while Staal recovers from his injury.
Hamrlik will be wearing no. 40 for the Rangers and is expected to make his debut with the Rangers tomorrow night when they face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.