New York Rangers look to AHL for Offensive Help

John Mitchell Called-Up For Offensive Help (Bridget Samuels/Flickr)
Throughout the ebbs and flows of an NHL season, a team is bound to run into a goal scoring draught. After winning seven in a row, the New York Rangers have struggled mightily on the offensive side of the puck. They lost their last two by scoring a combined one goal in the last two games.

In an effort to add some offense to their line-up, the Rangers have called Swedish Winger Carl Hagelin, and last year’s trade deadline acquisition John Mitchell to the big club.

“A number of things we have to figure out,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said after last night’s loss the the Florida Panthers. He wouldn’t elaborate, explaining, “I’ll specify it with the team.”

A roster spot will likely be opened up with the demotion of tough-guy Andre Deveaux. Deveaux laid out Panthers forward Tomas Fleischman with an elbow to the head, and will speak with Brendan Shanahan tomorrow, to discuss further discipline.

Carl Hagelin will likely be the first call-up to get a crack at the line-up. Hagelin, will see his first NHL action with the promotion, and the speedy Swede will should fit perfectly in any role he is assigned. The winger is fresh off a fantastic senior year at the University of Michigan, and has been a top offensive contributor in Hartford this year. With 7 goals, and 13 points in his first 17 games in the AHL, he has shown he can compete at a high level.

The 2007 sixth round pick was profiled in the New York Rangers prospect profile series by team writer Dan David. At press time, Rangers amateur scout Larry Bernard had the following to say about the winger, “He’s a high-energy player that is a tremendous skater,” Bernard said. “Right now he’s scoring a lot of goals, but he’s also a very dangerous penalty killer. I project him at the NHL level to be a third- or fourth-line energy player that will be a tremendous penalty killer and also a threat a man down.”

The other call-up, John Mitchell, 26, currently sits atop the scoring list for the Connecticut Whale. With 14 points the former Toronto Maple Leaves draft pick could also infuse some offense into the line-up.

The Oakville, Ontario native was acquired for a seventh round pick at last year’s trade deadline, and signed a deal with the Connecticut Whale in the off-season. Although he greatly impressed in training camp, and preseason, he didn’t get a shot with the big club until now.

John Tortorella doesn’t have all the answers, but is refusing to make excuses for his team’s poor play as of late.

“We just have to stay together just as we were when we were winning. I thought we were winning hockey games when we stayed within out team concept. I think its getting away from us a little bit in some of the details of the game,” Tortorella said to reporters after the team’s loss to Florida. He explained further that, “We gotta trade to grab some momentum, have something good happen to us for a period, and hopefully we can build off it.”

The Rangers will be back in action tomorrow night, against the always dangerous Washington Capitals. The Capitals have the ability to score at will on some nights, so the Rangers can’t expect to sneak by without a strong offensive effort. Of course, with Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, there’s always a chance the team could steal a game.

The Power Play, another huge issue for the Rangers this year. The team is currently ranked 29th with a man advantage, and is showing now immediate signs of improvement. They will need to become a consistent threat on the power play if they want to be a contending team.

The New York Rangers have been sputtering offensively as of late, and hopefully their two new call-ups can provide the scoring they have been lacking.

Follow Patrick Kearns on Twitter @PatrickKearns to talk prospects, or NY Rangers hockey.