Rangers claim former first-rounder Puempel


Matt Puempel has a new home.

After being waived by Ottawa on Sunday, Puempel — the 24th overall pick at the 2011 draft — has been claimed by the New York Rangers, per Sportsnet.

Puempel, 23, has appeared in 13 games this year for the Sens, going scoreless with a minus-5 rating. In 52 career NHL contests, he’s scored just four goals and six points.

A former OHL standout, Puempel was a quality goalscoring winger in junior, and carried that over to the American League. In his first full year with AHL Binghamton, he found the back of the net 30 times in 74 games — but that form hasn’t translated to the big league level.

Regardless, there will be eyeballs on Puempel now.

Largely because of who claimed him.

Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has a keen eye for reclamation projects and diamonds in the rough. His offseason acquisitions included getting Brandon Pirri and Michael Grabner on the cheap, and all they’ve done since joining the Rangers is combine to score 16 goals and 24 points through 19 games this season.

Puempel will also give the team some depth at forward after center Mika Zibanejad suffered a broken leg over the weekend. Zibanejad is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with the injury.

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