New York Hockey: Stu Bickel

The Rangers may have parted ways with Brandon Prust, but they won't be lacking for toughness.

In the opening hours of free agency, the team signed gritty forwards Arron Asham and Michael Haley and re-signed rugged defenseman Stu Bickel.

Asham, the biggest name of the bunch, agreed on a two-year deal worth $2 million, a source confirmed to

Asham's signing effectively signaled the end to Prust's tenure with the Rangers and sure enough, the 28-year-old winger inked a four-year deal worth a reported $10 million with Montreal. The Rangers were interested in bringing Prust back, but reached an impasse with the physical forward, who was seeking a significant pay raise from the $800,000 he made in 2011-12.

By joining the Rangers, Asham became a member of his fifth Atlantic Division team. He has formerly played for the Islanders, Flyers, Devils, and most recently, the Penguins. He finished with five goals, 11 assists and 76 penalty minutes in 64 games with Pittsburgh last season.

The Rangers began the first day of free agency with the signing of Bickel, who signed a two-year deal with the Rangers worth $1.5 million, several sources confirmed to

The rugged 6-foot-4 blue-liner appeared in 51 regular-season and 18 games for the Rangers this past season and recorded nine assists and 124 penalty minutes.

The Rangers also signed former Islanders enforcer Haley to a two-year deal that, multiple sources confirmed, is a two-way contract in the first year and one-way contract in the second. Haley led the Islanders minor-league affiliate in Bridgeport with 125 penalty minutes last season.

Two of his most memorable fights of the past season was actually against Bickel, who now becomes his teammate.

Bickel in for Prust, Dubinsky still out

May, 21, 2012
Although no one will confirm the personnel changes (the media received both "No update" and "Stop asking about the lineup" from coach John Tortorella this morning), defenseman Stu Bickel is expected to replace Brandon Prust as a forward in the lineup for Game 4 against the Devils.

Prust was hit with a one-game suspension Sunday for his elbow on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the Rangers' 3-0 win on Saturday.

"I'm disappointed that I'm, obviously, not playing. It's always disappointing when you don't get to be out there with your team," Prust said after Monday's morning skate.

Prust said he felt like his clean record was taken into consideration -- he has incurred only two elbowing penalties in his 301-game career -- and understood the decision.

"I definitely didn't violently attack anybody but I still got my elbow up and we're trying to get that out of the game," he said.

Although the return of injured forward Brandon Dubinsky would make for a seamless transition, the 26-year-old is not yet ready to play. He has been sidelined since suffering a right foot injury in Game 7 of the Rangers' first-round series against Ottawa.

"This team doesn't do percentages, I'm not sure if you've talked to Torts or not. It's usually a 'yes' or a 'no' and for tonight, it's a 'no,' " Dubinsky said. "We'll keep going, keep working on my conditioning, and it'll keep feeling better and hopefully we'll get to a place where I can be in the lineup."

Bickel, who was a healthy scratch in Game 3, will likely skate as a forward as he has done previously this season with his team in a bind.

Injured forward Brandon Dubinsky made it through his first full practice with the Rangers Sunday since sustaining a right foot injury in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

And while his return could be one of seamless timing should he be ready to play Monday, when the Rangers will likely have a hole to fill assuming Brandon Prust earns a suspension for his hit on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov on Game 3, he was cryptic when asked about his availability.

"I'm going to follow Torts' rules again," Dubinsky said. "No timeline."

It appears unlikely Dubinsky could play after only one full practice, even in the wake of the team's pressing lineup needs. The Rangers will probably opt instead to use either defenseman Stu Bickel or Steve Eminger as a forward, as they have done in the past.

Regardless, Dubinsky seemed encouraged by his progress and said he's happy to be around the team again as they prepare for Game 4 against the Devils.

"It's nice to be back with the guys, nice to shoot some pucks against a goalie, and it just feels good to be around and get the chance to jump back on the ice."

After trade, Rangers prep for Bolts

November, 24, 2010
The Rangers made a minor trade Tuesday, acquiring minor-league D Stu Bickel from the Anaheim Ducks for Hartford D Nigel Williams.

Bickel has eight points in 63 career AHL games, with stints split between Iowa, San Antonio and Syracuse. Bickel, 24, was signed by the Ducks as an undrafted free agent in 2008 after playing a season with the University of Minnesota.

Bigger news, however, is that Michal Rozsival was on the ice in a yellow no-contact jersey yesterday in Tampa, according to The Record’s Andrew Gross. It was the first time the injured D-man has skated since being sidelined with a pair of problems (shoulder/knee). Gross also notes that Vinny Prospal is on the road trip, though there is no time table for his return.

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