Winger Matt Puempel is looking forward to a new start with the Rangers after the club claimed his off waivers Monday from Ottawa, less than 24 hours after losing center Mika Zibanejad for six-to-eight weeks with a broken fibula.
"I think just waking up today and realizing today that in a couple hours you could be on a different team - when I found out I was part of the Rangers I was just so reenergized and just so excited and excited to get on the ice with them,' Puempel told NYRangers.com in a phone interview on Monday. "It brings a whole new element to freshening things up. I've been in the Ottawa organization for a while now. Just to freshen things up, get a new look, new faces and all that stuff is definitely exciting for me."
The 2011 first-round pick was placed on waivers Sunday by the Senators after he was pointless in 13 games this season. For his career, Puempel has four goals and six points in 52 games, all with Ottawa.
The 23-year-old was a noted goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League, including three 30-plus goal season between Peterborough and Kitchener.
But Ottawa's use - or lack of - Puempel has played a role in his lack of offensive production. This season, he's averaging just 8:02 of ice time after 11:20 in 26 games a year ago. Puempel is hoping this move will reignite his offensive game.
"In Ottawa, when you're playing lower in the lineup sometimes you're more focused on defense and just surviving," Puempel admitted. "I think this is an opportunity to freshen things up and kind of go back to what I love doing in scoring goals and helping on on the offensive side, but definitely not being a liability by any means on the defensive side. Just playing a complete game and adding some offense to my game."
While the Rangers' dressing room is full of new faces for Puempel, there's one familiar face: Zibanejad. The two played together with the Senators and in Binghampton (AHL).
"He said it's a great group of guys and that I'd really like being in New York and around the guys," Puempel said. "He also said it's an exciting city to play in and it's fun to play there. He's enjoyed his couple months he's been there."
With the claim in and a new team in his future, Puempel - who was traveling to New York Monday and will meet teammates tomorrow - is now is looking forward to finding his place in the lineup, one that he thinks fits his game well.
"Definitely just excited to be part of what they've already started," he said. "Obviously a powerhouse offensively throughout the league with just how well their start has been. It's exciting. For myself, I think fitting in is up to the coaches and management and what they see."