Chad Ruhwedel #2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on during...

Chad Ruhwedel #2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on during the first period Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on February 29, 2024 in Seattle, Washington.  Credit: Getty Images

GREENBURGH — On Saturday, in his return to Pittsburgh, eight days after the Penguins had traded him to the Rangers, Chad Ruhwedel was treated to a touching “Welcome Back’’ tribute video played on the video screen inside PPG Paints Arena, showing the 33-year-old defenseman in action over his eight years in Pittsburgh, including when he got a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup over his head in 2017.

Unfortunately for Ruhwedel, he wasn’t on the Rangers bench when he watched the video, but in the press box where he was in a suit rather than a Blueshirt. It had to be awkward for him to be a healthy scratch for his first game back in Pittsburgh, but Ruhwedel nevertheless was able to wave to the camera and soak up the applause from the Penguins fans who appreciated his time with their team.

“Ha,’’ he said Tuesday morning, when asked about that moment. “The video was great. I’m really thankful that they did that for me. Being In the press box, that was just part of the scenario that was drawn up. So I was just really thankful for the shout out they gave me, and the appreciation.’’

Ruhwedel finally makes his Rangers debut Tuesday night when the Blueshirts play the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden. The left knee injury suffered by defenseman Ryan Lindgren in Sunday’s game against the Islanders created an opening that allowed Ruhwedel to enter the lineup 11 days after the Rangers traded a fourth-round draft pick in 2027 for him.

“We've been waiting to get Ruhwedel in there,’’ Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “And [the opportunity] just hasn't presented itself. And he's been great. He's been working hard, and now he gets an opportunity because of an injury to Lindgren, so that's a good thing. I think we're excited to see him play. I'm sure he's excited to play a game for us at Madison Square Garden.’’

Ruhwedel, a 5-11, 190-pounder from San Diego, Calif., played 47 games this season for Pittsburgh, collecting a goal, three assists and four penalty minutes. He’s a righthanded shot, and Rangers GM Chris Drury explained after he made the trade that the organization needed some depth at right defense.

When Jacob Trouba, a righthanded-shooting defenseman, was knocked out of the lineup right when Ruhwedel was acquired, it seemed logical Ruhwedel would step right into the lineup. But Laviolette opted instead for Zac Jones, a lefthander, who had served quietly as the seventh defenseman all season, to take Trouba’s place. On Tuesday, Ruhwedel was partnered with Jones on the third defense pair against the Jets.

Ruhwedel said he was excited to make his Rangers debut, but said he understood why he had to wait.

“When the team is playing that well, like they did over this past stretch, I mean, yeah, you obviously want to play, but the team is playing solid,’’ he said. “You can just ride the hot hand, honestly. All the ‘D’ are playing great; the goalies are playing great. So I was just anticipating my debut, my insertion into the lineup. So I'm excited.’’

Rempe eligible, but scratched

Rangers forward Matt Rempe was eligible to return to the lineup after serving his four-game suspension for elbowing Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, but Rempe was a healthy scratch as Laviolette stayed with the same 12 forwards he used in the 5-2 win over the Islanders.

“We now have 13 forwards available, and … I do want to keep them all in play,’’ Laviolette said. “I do think that Rempe has played well. He's brought certain things to our team and he's played a physical role. He's played the game well and he'll be back in there. It’s just, coming off of the last game, and the way we played, specifically how that bottom six [forwards] played, I just found it was best to come back with the same lineup.

“But I am going to move guys [in and out of the lineup],’’ he said. “It won't be because somebody's getting scratched. It'll be just because we're going to keep 13 [forwards] and we're going to get ourselves playoff ready.’’

Trouba skating on his own

Trouba, who last played March 4 against Florida, has been skating on his own, Laviolette said. Trouba has missed seven games with a lower-body injury.

“I don't have a time frame on it, but there'll be a time when you see him return to us, most likely probably in a non-contact jersey, and we'll start to get him some reps,’’ Laviolette said.

Winnipeg without Bowness

Jets coach Rick Bowness returned to Winnipeg after having what the team said was “a minor medical procedure.’’ Associate coach Scott Arniel ran the Jets bench in Bowness’ absence.

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