On Monday, the New York Rangers placed forward Arron Asham and backup goaltender Martin Biron on waivers. Later on in the day, the team placed star winger Rick Nash on injured reserve, opening up two forward spots on the roster.
TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted the Rangers are expected to call up Hartford Wolf Pack starting goalie Cam Talbot to replace Biron. The 26-year-old Talbot has been playing well for the Rangers' AHL affiliate early on this season. He is 2-0-1 in three games with a 2.54 goals against and .918 save percentage. Through four games, the Wolf Pack have the best record in the AHL. Last year, Talbot had a 25-28-1-2 record with the Connecticut Whale (former name of the Wolf Pack) with a 2.63 goals against and .918 save percentage. The Rangers signed him as an undrafted free agent on March 30, 2010. Prior to joining the Wolf Pack, Talbot played college hockey for the University of Alabama - Huntsville.
Meanwhile, in a tweet from the New York Rangers official Twitter page, Alain Vigneault says coaches and management will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss possible roster moves. "It's a performance-based business and the organization felt that Marty's first two performances were not what we expected and decided to put him on waivers," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're going to get together [Monday] as a group and talk about where we go from there. We'll see what happens in the next couple of hours."
"At this stage here, we felt that for our team that's the decision we needed to make. I said before we need a backup that can play 15 to 20 games and play them well. We'll see where we go from here," said Vigneault.
Biron says he is weighing his options. "I think there's many options ahead of me. I just was put on waivers. I'll see what happens with that," says the netminder. "There's many different options that are going to be presented to me and I'll see what fits the best. It's not the best-case scenario obviously. But I'm going to figure it out."
Asham has played in three games so far this season for the Blueshirts, receiving no points, a plus/minus of -3, and 14 penalty minutes. The 35-year-old winger knew he would be fighting for a roster spot this year, especially with young forwards such as J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, and Danny Kristo in the system and close to being brought up.
"I have no hard feelings. It's part of the business.," said Asham. "We obviously didn't start out the way we wanted to. Things happened. It's obviously unacceptable and everyone in the dressing room isn't too happy, but we had to make some changes and this is it."
He was signed as a free agent by the Rangers on July 1, 2012. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he played in 27 games for the Rangers and scored two goals, while receiving 50 PIM. Statistically, his best season as a pro was the 2002-03 season, his first as a New York Islander. That year, he netted 15 goals and had 19 assists. Asham was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round (71st overall) in the 1996 Entry Draft. He has so far played for a total of six NHL teams. In addition to the Canadiens and Islanders, Asham also played for the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins prior to his current stint with the Rangers.
"I have no hard feelings towards the organization. They're first class all the way. Just gonna go down. Hopefully, someone picks me up. If not, go down, just work my butt off, and try to work my way back up," says Asham.
Asham being placed on waivers is not much of a surprise, especially since Asham was seen as not really fitting into new head coach Alain Vigneault's system. But, it is a bit of a surprise to see Biron placed on waivers.
"It's not a good feeling, obviously. We've been working together for a few years. Just a great relationship. I don't know what's going to happen. Just gonna right now focus on my own game. But, me and Marty, we really get along well," said Rangers starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. "It's part of the game, unfortunately."
Granted, Biron had a rough start to his season. In two games, against the sharks and blues, the 36-year-old goaltender is 0-1-0 with a .763 save percentage and 7.61 goals against average. But, Biron is considered one of the more solid backup goaltenders in the league. Early on in his career, he was one of the more respected starting goalies in the league.
Biron was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round (16th overall) in the 1995 Entry Draft. He reached his peak as a starter with the Sabres during the 2001-02 season. He played 72 games that year, garnering a 31-28-10 record with a .915 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average. Biron would also play for the Flyers and the Islanders before being signed as a free agent by the Rangers on July 1, 2010. He made 24 saves in his first start as a Ranger, winning 2-1 in overtime over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on October 21, 2010. Biron has a career record of 230-191 with 25 ties, 27 overtime losses, a .910 save percentage, and 2.62 goals against average. 22 of his 230 career wins have come with the Rangers (22-15-3).
According to the NY Post's Larry Brooks, "if Biron clears waivers and is assigned to the Wolf Pack, his cap hit would be $375,000, while Asham’s would be $75,000. Brooks continues, "If the Rangers call up Cam Talbot from the Wolf Pack to replace Biron, the cap hit would be $562,500, saving the team a pro-rated $362,500."
Meanwhile, Nash's head injury issues are lingering, which led to the Rangers placing the power forward on injured reserve. According to Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News, the Rangers wanted to add two forwards to the lineup right away. By placing Nash on injured reserve, this is possible. A player would have to remain ineligible to play for seven days. After that, if the player is healthy, they can return. Also, injured reserve can also be retroactive to the day Nash was injured. If the Rangers did so, Nash would be eligible to come off injured reserve on Wednesday.
Nash is not expected to be a part of the Rangers' next two games. On Wednesday, they will be in Washington to face the Capitals. On Saturday, they play the Devils in Newark - the closest a Ranger game has been to NYC so far this season.