After practice on Tuesday, the New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault made the decision to call JT Miller up from their AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack. While Vigneault told reporters that the team might stick with 12 forwards in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, he elected to call up a forward from the Wolf Pack to provide more options and flexibility to the lineup in the wake of missing its top scorer, Mats Zuccarello, for a few weeks.
While it seems most people believe the call to bring Miller to the Rangers is merely just to have a 13th forward for the foreseeable future while Zuccarello is out with a broken hand, the move warrants the question of are the Rangers making this move in anticipation of moving another forward at the trade deadline early next week?
Much has been reported about the possibility of the Rangers trying to trade Captain Ryan Callahan before the trade deadline to alleviate salary cap issues with re-signing him. Does this move to bring a 13th forward to the Rangers mean that a deal to trade Callahan might be in the works and close to becoming finalized?
A team only needs 12 forwards to field a normal NHL lineup, as only 18 skaters are permitted to dress for a game, normally 12 forwards and six defensemen. However, most teams carry anywhere from 19 to 23 skaters on their roster and scratch the ones that will not be playing in order to arrive at 18 dressed players for each game. While it is not unusual to have more than 13 forwards on the professional roster, the timing of the move to bring up Miller seems a bit suspicious with the trade deadline looming.
Rumors of Callahan being traded have been coming from seemingly everywhere lately, although no comments have been made from Callahan or the Rangers organization recently. Are they trying to keep a deal quiet or is there no such deal to talk about?
On the other hand, Vigneault and the Rangers organization could possibly just be replacing the roster spot that will be vacant in the wake of the Zuccarello injury; or maybe another Ranger forward could be packing his bags.
With less than a week of active trading time left in the NHL, it will be interesting to see what moves are made, not just in New York, but throughout the entire league.