Rangers’ Matt Rempe ‘juiced up’ ahead of potential NHL debut in Stadium Series

With Blake Wheeler out for the remainder of the season due to a lower-body injury suffered during Thursday’s matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers are going to have to mix things up in their lineup.

Jimmy Vesey is expected to be bumped to the top line in Wheeler’s place, and it’s looking more and more likely that Matt Rempe will receive the first opportunity on the fourth line during Sunday’s Stadium Series matchup against the Islanders.

While head coach Peter Laviolette hasn’t confirmed anything, the youngster has taken line rushes as the right wing alongside Barclay Goodrow and fellow rookie Adam Edstrom each of the past two practices.

If he does crack the lineup, Rempe would be the first player in NHL history to make his debut in an outdoor game. While there will certainly be some nerves for the 21-year-old, if the opportunity does come his way he knows he’ll be ready.

“That would be unreal and a heckuva of a story,” Rempe said. “I think I’d handle it pretty well. I play a hard and physical game that runs on adrenaline. I think I’m going to be juiced up to the max, so I think I’ll be buzzing out there.”

Rempe has made tremendous progress since being selected as a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The physical 6-foot-8 forward has racked up 96 penalty minutes, including seven fights, to go along with a career-high eight goals and 12 points through 43 games this season.

He quickly caught Laviolette’s attention with a strong preseason showing, which included a fight against the Islanders’ Ross Johnston, which is exactly why this opportunity is likely coming his way.

“He’s improved a lot this season,” the veteran head coach said. “His size and his presence out there is part of it, but he’s also really worked on his game. He’s a great kid, smiling from ear to ear, and looking for an opportunity to play, so we’ll see where that goes.”

While Rempe is happy with the progress he’s made thus far this year he knows there’s always more work to be done.

“I’ve come a long way,” he said. “Just continuing to work, I think I’ve taken big steps this year with my game in all aspects down in Hartford. I still have a lot of work to do, and I’m just going to continue doing that.”