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Rangers call up Chris Mueller, send J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast to AHL

Rangers center J.T. Miller looks on against the

Rangers center J.T. Miller looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period of Game 3 of a second-round layoff hockey series at Madison Square Garden on Monday, May 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Still searching for answers in the middle, the Rangers summoned center Chris Mueller from Hartford and dispatched J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast to the AHL on Friday.

With Derek Stepan (fractured fibula) on long-term injured reserve for another five games, the transactions signal several things, including the end of the Martin St. Louis experiment at center.

St. Louis will return to right wing Sunday against the San Jose Sharks in the finale of this four-game homestand. That's where he has spent his entire NHL career, which includes six seasons of at least 30 goals. St. Louis has four assists but has won only 47 percent of his faceoffs.

The Rangers (2-3) were off Friday, but when they practice Saturday and face the Sharks on Sunday, it appears as though the centers will be Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Kevin Hayes and Mueller, who was one of the last cuts in training camp.

Miller, 21, had a good camp but didn't cut it defensively at center. He was a healthy scratch the last two games, as was Fast, 22, the Swedish right wing.

Miller was held without a point in three games and was minus-4; Fast was pointless and a minus-1.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault likes the on-ice savvy of Fast, who came to camp stronger, but was publicly critical of Miller's focus and maturity last season.

Miller came to camp early and in shape, but the former first-round draft pick in 2011 probably is more suited to left wing than center in the NHL.

Mueller, 28, played with Dallas' AHL team last season and had 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games. He had a goal in his only game with the Wolfpack.

Rookie Anthony Duclair, 19, might be the spare forward and not dress on Sunday. He played only one shift in the third period of the Rangers' 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes on Thursday and was bumped off the power play.

Vigneault has lamented the Rangers' defensive mistakes during the first five-game stretch. With Stepan and defenseman Dan Boyle (broken hand) out and the club looking for traction, Vigneault feels more comfortable with veterans.

Mueller, a native of West Seneca, N.Y., who also played parts of three seasons for the Nashville Predators, has an opportunity to make a case for himself before Stepan returns in early November.

When that happens, the Rangers will need to move some salary, and Mueller, Duclair -- who could be returned to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts -- and possibly Kevin Hayes will be on the bubble.

Notes & quotes: Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, who has a history of trades with Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather, was at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, presumably scouting and checking the market for some of his own players.

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