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The Sabres Could Use a Matt Rempe

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Matt Rempe New York Rangers

With the New York Rangers shut out and pushed around in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, there’s speculation that Matt Rempe may draw into the lineup. Rempe has taken the NHL by storm since his first game on February 18th, with seven fighting majors and 71 penalty minutes in 17 games.

Some see him as a novelty player, but you cannot question the entertainment value he’s brought to the league. Take his February 24th bout against Nicolas Deslauriers for instance.

Rempe’s Numbers

There’s a numbers truth with Rempe as well, as you may have guessed. Despite his 6’7″, 241-pound stature, he’s not just a goon. He has positively impacted the Rangers’ fourth line, acting as a defensively-aware play-driver to complement his physical nature.

To better understand what he brings to the table, let’s look at his attributes and similar players, courtesy of PuckLuck.

Matt Rempe New York Rangers player comps

As you can see by the wide-casting radar, there’s a lot more to Rempe’s game than just fighting. He doesn’t offer much offense, as evidenced by his two points in 17 games. He is, however, a reliable hockey player on the ice to supplement his antics.

None of his closest comps are as tall as Rempe, but they all bring a physical element to the game. Martin Pospisil spent much of his rookie season on Calgary’s second line with Nazem Kadri in a scoring role but was suspended for three games in March for a vicious boarding penalty.

Adam Lowry, Marcus Foligno, and Mark Kastelic are all bottom-six shutdown players.

Zemgus Girgensons is not the fighter or even volume hitter that Rempe is, but he plays a similar defensive style with almost the exact same results.

Finding the Sabres a Matt Rempe

Re-signing Girgensons is a quick and easy way to fill a fourth-line role similar to Rempe’s. What Girgensons doesn’t bring to the table, however, is the flair and presence of the big Rangers forward. The presumed value of Rempe goes beyond play on the ice. He also brings entertainment value to fans and is a player in the lineup other teams have to account for.

Marcus Foligno

In his most similar comps, Foligno fits that bill the best. The former Sabres forward is known as one of the league’s better defensive wingers and is willing to drop the gloves with anyone. Some of Foligno’s best fights came with the Sabres, and he’s known as a well-liked player in the locker room.

The problem is Foligno has four years left on his contract at a cap hit of $4 million. The Minnesota Wild are desperate to free up some cap space, but that would be a tough contract for the Sabres to eat. This is especially true considering he’ll be 36 by the end of the deal.

Dakota Joshua

There’s an intriguing option in free agency that played for the Vancouver Canucks this postseason. Dakota Joshua is a good play-driver and defender who can provide quality penalty-kill minutes. He’s 28 years old and an unrestricted free agent coming off a two-year contract at $825,000 per year.

Joshua isn’t the imposing force that Rempe is, but he’s a fan favorite and more versatile than just a fourth-line plug. He is due for a raise after an 18-goal season, but the term and amount shouldn’t break the bank by any means.

Garnet Hathaway

Prying Garnet Hathaway away from Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella is like winning a toy rope tug-of-war battle with a pit bull. He fits Tortorella’s style of play perfectly.

He is on the last year of a two-year deal though, and the Flyers are experimenting with ways to retool the roster.

Hathaway is an elite penalty drawer, borderline elite defensively, and very good shorthanded. If you recall, he knocked Dylan Cozens out for a couple of games after the Sabres center bit off more than he could chew in a scrap.

Most importantly, all three players would provide a “harder to play against” mentality that Lindy Ruff is trying to bring to the club. If Matt Rempe can do it for the President’s Trophy-winning Rangers, the Sabres could also use the lift.