The Minnesota Wild entered this lockout-shortened season with high expectations, and general manager Chuck Fletcher is not wasting any time making moves with the team having lost four of their last six games. The team has announced the acquisition of center Mike Rupp from the New York Rangers in exchange for center Darroll Powe and right wing Nick Palmieri.
Rupp is in his 10th NHL season, and has 53 goals, 41 assists and 765 penalty minutes in 565 career games. Wild head coach Mike Yeo is familiar with him, as the first of his two seasons (2009-2010) with the Pittsburgh Penguins came when Yeo was an assistant there. Coincidentally or not, Rupp’s career high in goals (13) and points (19) came during that 2009-2010 season.
Rupp helped the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup in 2003, scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Anaheim Ducks, and he has also spent time with the Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets during his career.
Rupp is in the second season of a three-year, $4.5 million he signed with the Rangers prior to last season. His $1.5 million salary for next season is only slightly more than the just over $1 million Powe is slated to make next season, so the financial aspect was clearly not the driving force for the trade on either side. But dealing two players for one does free the Wild up to offer a contract to another player, since they are now one below the maximum of 50.
Rupp will bring some needed toughness and grit for Minnesota, and he definitely has the size (6’5″, 243 lbs.) to hold his own if he has to drop the gloves and serve as an enforcer. Where exactly he fits in Minnesota’s line arrangement is unclear, but that should start to sort itself out when he makes his Wild debut, as long as things go according to plan, on Thursday night against the rival Vancouver Canucks.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.