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Girardi Out With Ankle Injury; Reaction to Smith Deal

Plus Buchnevich Assigned to Hartford and Minor League Deal Completed

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers will be without defenseman Dan Girardi for up to two weeks, as the blueliner deals with a lingering ankle injury he suffered last month when he blocked a shot that forced him to miss two games.

"Dan's open wound when he blocked that shot is not healing," Alain Vigneault said prior to Tuesday's loss to Washington. "There's still a big hole there and our doctors feel we need to shut him down for around two weeks."

Defenseman Steven Kampfer was recalled from Hartford (AHL) for the tilt with the Capitals. The 28-year-old played 15:44 and was a minus-2 with two shots and three blocked shots. 
Mika Zibanejad missed Tuesday's game with a hand injury he suffered Sunday when he was struck with a puck in the final minute of a loss to Columbus.

Zibanejad took warmups but just "couldn't handle the puck," according to Vigneault.

Matt Puempel started in Zibanejad's place and skated on the fourth line with Oscar Lindberg and Brandon Pirri. He had three shots in 11:56 of ice time.
Kevin Klein missed his fourth straight game with back spasms, but Vigneault was hopeful the defenseman could practice with team Wednesday.

The Rangers expected defenseman Brendan Smith to be at practice Wednesday after he arrived in New York during last night's game. The 28-year-old was acquired from Detroit for a 2018 second round pick and a 2017 third round pick prior to Wednesday's deadline. The second round pick was previously acquired from Ottawa.

"He's a player we've liked for a while," Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said. "I think the group thinks with his skating, the way he plays the game, the fact that he can play the left and the right side, the fact that he brings some toughness, that he's got some players in our room that have played with him so it's not walking into the room without knowing anybody. It's a combination of all those things that made it a good fit for us."

Video: Rangers GM Jeff Gorton on Brendan Smith trade

With Girardi out and Klein recovering, the addition of Smith comes at a good time for Vigneault.

"What I've been seeing, and especially our scouts have been following him very closely… real competitive defenseman, can skate well, make a good first pass," Vigneault said. "He competes, he competes real hard, and we're going to need that."
The Rangers on Tuesday assigned Pavel Buchnevich to Hartford (AHL). Gorton said the decision was two-fold.

"The first thing it's still a 23-man roster [through Tuesday's trade deadline], and in order to make [the trade for Smith] we needed a roster move," Gorton said. "The other thing is Pavel needs to play and if he wasn't going to play tonight, then I think we needed to get him down to Hartford and play some games."
The Rangers acquired forward Daniel Catenacci from the Sabres' organization in exchange for Hartford defenseman Mat Bodie. 

Catenacci, 23, has five goals and eight assists in 50 games this season with Rochester (AHL). He appeared in 11 NHL games with Buffalo during the 2015-16 season.

Bodie skated in 196 games with Hartford over parts of three seasons, recording 20 goals and 28 assists for 98 points. He was originally signed by New York as an undrafted free agent on April 15, 2014.

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