Smoke signal? Brandon Mashinter returned to Hartford
The Rangers were off today, including Rick Nash (concussion), who had skated or practiced for nine straight days and said he was hopeful to return Tuesday against the Bruins or Thursday in Dallas.
But the Mashinter transaction is not a definitive sign that the elite right wing will dress for Tuesday's game at MSG. As you have read here and in Newsday, the print edition, Nash has said he wanted a few more practices for conditioning and timing purposes. The Rangers don't have a full practice scheduled until Wednesday.
And, I'm told, the team wanted Mashinter to play, rather than sit. He was a healthy scratch for four of the last six games, and wasn't likely to play against the Bruins at MSG Tuesday. The Rangers have 12 healthy forwards, and J.T. Miller has been a positive contributor on the fourth line in the past two games.
It does appear, however, that Nash will play at some point on the five-game road trip which includes stops in Nashville, Tampa, Florida and Boston. Mashinter would have been a second spare forward on the journey, and the Wolf Pack play Wednesday and four other times while the Rangers are away.
Already below the salary-cap ceiling, the Rangers were not forced to make a move, but will create a little more room (a total of about $1.4 million) with Mashinter's demotion. Taylor Pyatt, who will miss his fifth game Tuesday with a concussion, but is said to be improving, remains on IR.