GREENBURGH, N.Y. - He may forever be known as "the other guy'' the Rangers acquired at the trade deadline this year. But James Sheppard is fine with that and happy to be with the Rangers as he prepares to debut for them Wednesday night in Detroit.
The Rangers picked up Sheppard, 26, on Sunday, the same day they traded for defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle got the headlines and made his Rangers debut in a 4-1 win over Nashville on Monday.
Sheppard, who came from San Jose for a fourth-round pick in 2016, had his first practice with the club Tuesday.
"It was pretty hectic,'' Sheppard said of his last few days. "Things happen quick and you've got to kind of pick up and leave, which is tough because I had my girlfriend and my sister over there.''
Sheppard, who had five goals and 11 assists in 57 games for San Jose, practiced as the left wing on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast.
Usual fourth-liner Tanner Glass skated in Mats Zuccarello's spot with Derick Brassard and Rick Nash. Zuccarello had a maintenance day for what coach Alain Vigneault called a "bo-bo,'' which he explained is the French version of "boo-boo.''
Either way, Zuccarello is expected to play Wednesday. If Sheppard debuts, that could mean Glass will be the extra forward.
"I think Tanner has played well in his role,'' Vigneault said. "The dynamics that he brings to our group, I would say the last little while he has played the exact type of hockey we expected -- the physicality, being a deterrent against the other team's physicality. I think he's done that. I think with the addition of an individual that can play that center position and has done that in the past -- that's Sheppard -- that will help our group.''
Sheppard said Vigneault "likes that I can play the center and play the wing, as well. Pretty much whatever I'm asked to do, I just want to do my job right.''
Sheppard saw the Rangers beat the Sharks twice this season by a combined score of 7-1, so he knows what they can do. He'll get to experience it firsthand as the Rangers start a five-game trip that includes a visit to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.
"I'm a little biased because I was in the West, but like a West team in the East,'' Sheppard said. "They were offensive. They were defensive. They played as a team. They had good special teams. They were a team that was in your face all the time.''