A Look at Mike Rupp and Veteran Presence in the Playoffs

Mike Rupp has been anything but spectacular this year. He has netted five goals and one assist in just over fifty games played and is pretty much a lock to eclipse the 100 PIM mark before the regular season ends. Rupp was signed in the offseason to a three year deal with a cap hit of $1.5 million per year. Ranger fans collectively groaned at Sather making yet another long-term commitment to a "tough guy" player that many of us didn’t feel we needed. Let’s be honest, we didn’t need Rupp, and we certainly didn’t need him for three years at $1.5 million a year on the cap. Join me for more obvious statements after the jump…

Other than playing like a glorious, golden god during the Winter Classic, Rupp hasn’t contributed much to the team or its success. Almost always on the fourth line, Rupp averages 6:38 TOI and 9.5 shifts a game. The question you can’t escape when you look at numbers like this is, "Why are we paying this guy this much to do so little?" I have tried very hard to like Rupp and give him a fair shake as a Ranger (something that was difficult to do considering he was a Devil and a Penguin before he was a Blueshirt). I knew that he worked hard and added a veteran presence to the locker room that was welcome on a young team, but there is no denying that he is a weak link in the roster.

I am beginning to wonder if Rupp might improve on his underwhelming regular season play in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. His track record suggests that we should expect more of the same from him in terms of a lack of production, but can we really expect more offense out of a guy who gets nine to ten shifts every game? I think we should expect Rupp to lead by example during the playoffs by playing physical but smart hockey. One might hope that he elevates his game like he did in the Winter Classic, but we really shouldn’t get our hopes up when it comes to Rupper. Still, Rupp is one of three players on the active roster that has hoisted the Stanley Cup on a very young team. Rupp could really prove himself valuable to the team this postseason by his actions on and off the ice. Or, as many people tend to think, is experience and veteran presence overvalued and exaggerated?

Do you guys think Rupp has been a success this year, keeping in mind that we signed him to be a fourth liner? Can we look at Rupp’s performance without saying to ourselves, "Really? Three years? Three?!? He’ll be 35 when his contract expires. How much is he against the cap, $900k? ONE POINT FIVE MILLION?!?" Will Rupp play his best hockey as a Ranger in the postseason and prove to be a valuable asset on a very young team? I think Rupp might surprise some of us with his play in the postseason. I am looking for him to step up his game and make the other team very anxious for the six and a half minutes he is on the ice. I’m looking for him to stick up for his teammates, work the cycle, and put the puck on net when he has a clear shooting lane. In short, I am looking for Rupp to prove us all wrong and Slats right by being a big part of the team’s swagger and character in the postseason. At the very least, he is good for a pretty badass playoff beard.

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