The Whale had some serious NHL experience added to their blueline, albeit on a short-term basis, Wednesday, when tenth-year pro Steve Eminger was dispatched to Connecticut on a two-week conditioning assignment.
Eminger, a veteran of 457 NHL games in his career, 111 of them in three years with the Rangers, has been caught in a numbers game in the Blueshirts’ defensive rotation, battling Matt Gilroy and Stu Bickel for the last spot in the lineup. The 6-2, 207-pounder had been a healthy scratch in seven of the Rangers’ last eight games, and had averaged only 5:53 of ice time in the four games he did play.
Eminger had to agree to the conditioning stint for the assignment to be made, so he is clearly serious about getting some quality action in and playing his way back on to the Ranger radar screen, and from the other side of the table, the Rangers still think enough of him that they didn’t risk losing him on the waivers that would have been required for a regular assignment. So there is a carrot for Eminger to chase during his two weeks in the AHL, a time period that includes six Whale games, and a strong motivation to play hard.
It will be the first AHL action for Eminger since the last lockout season, 2004-05, during which he spent the year with the Portland Pirates, posting 20 points in 62 games. In 103 career AHL games, Eminger has totaled 3-21-24, with 80 penalty minutes.