How should the Rangers utilize their top enforcer next season?

May 24, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) reacts after a play during the third period in game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers had one of the most exciting rookies join their roster late this season in the form of enforcer Matt Rempe. He quickly became a cult favorite, as his big hits and frequent fights brought the Blueshirts some much-needed spotlight.

HC Peter Laviolette barely utilized Rempe throughout the three rounds of the postseason that the Rangers were featured in. This leaves the rookie’s future in the air, as nobody knows if he will be played moving forward next season.

Matt Rempe recorded a devastatingly low TOI during the postseason

Apr 21, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) scores a goal in the second period against the Washington Capitals in game one of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) scores a goal in the second period against the Washington Capitals in game one of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Blueshirts played in 16 total games this postseason, Laviolette chose to include Rempe in just 11 of them. His time-on-ice throughout the playoffs was just 67:20, giving him an average playing time of just 6:07 per game.

This is not enough playing time to give any NHL player a chance to make an impact, let alone a slow-skating enforcer such as Rempe. If Laviolette truly wanted to utilize Rempe, he would’ve given him more time to shine on the ice.

How does Rempe’s low TOI impact his future on the Rangers?

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan Reaves (75) lands a punch as he fights with New York Rangers forward Matt Rempe (73) in the third period at Scotiabank Arena
Mar 2, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan Reaves (75) lands a punch as he fights with New York Rangers forward Matt Rempe (73) in the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Although Laviolette may have made a mistake by withholding Rempe from the playoff action, he’ll likely rejoin the team as an NHL regular this upcoming season. He thrived with the team when he was given the chance to play, and although there are some criticisms of his play style, he is still one of the most important players on the Rangers’ roster.

Chances are that Rempe will remain on the Rangers’ fourth line moving forward. He’s not good enough to receive a promotion, but his impact and popularity are enough to keep him around for a majority of the 2024-25 regular season. If the Rangers are able to make the playoffs once again next year, hopefully, Laviolette will learn from his mistakes and utilize his enforcer more often.

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