In the week leading up to Sunday's NHL Draft in Newark Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director of Player Personnel, spoke about how the team was looking to add depth to the defense position within the organization. While Clark may have been speaking to the team's drafting strategy, the Rangers did indeed improve their defensive depth on Sunday, acquiring 24 year-old Justin Falk from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Benn Ferriero and a sixth round pick in the 2014 draft.
The 6-foot-5 Falk has played in 108 NHL games since being selected in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, including 36 this past season with the Wild. Falk has registered 100 career penalty minutes while also scoring one goal and totaling 15 points.
"I am going to be a big defenseman out there who's going to be tough play against," Falk told BlueshirtsUnited.com on Sunday. "I skate pretty well, especially for my size, and I am physical, more than willing to make big hits when they are there to be made. And when it's time to stand up for my teammates I'll drop the gloves, and also keep other guys away from our goalie."
Falk became aware that a trade may be on the horizon while attending his sister's wedding on Saturday. He admitted to being "thrilled" when told Sunday morning he had been traded to New York.
"It's been a pretty fun weekend to have all of the family together for the wedding and then to have this trade happen," explained Falk, who had three assists and 40 penalty minutes this past season. "I am just really really excited about this opportunity. I am looking forward to bringing all aspects of my game to the Rangers and to being another piece in the puzzle."
Falk appeared in four playoff games with the Wild this past Spring, and has vast minor league post-season experience being a part of the 2009 Houston Aeros team that went three rounds deep in the AHL playoffs and the 2011 Aeros squad that was defeated in six games by the Binghamton Senators in the Calder Cup Finals.
The 220-pound defenseman also feels familiar with the style of play favored by the Rangers' new head coach Alain Vigneault.
"I have a little familiarity with him and his system, playing against Vancouver the past few years," Falk said of Vigneault. "Hopefully it'll be a quick connection and we can get things started off rolling."
Born and raised in Snowflake, AB Canada, Falk joked that it will be somewhat of an adjustment coming to the big city of New York, but that he is also excited about the prospect. He also noted that Ray Bourque---the Hall of Fame defenseman, and father of Rangers prospect Ryan Bourque---was his idol as a little boy, and that he tries to pattern his game after former Kings d-man Rob Blake.
"I have the confidence in my ability to shut down these elite players in the league," stated Falk. "It's a confidence I have built up in my career as I have improved my skating ability, and my size and strength have come along as I've matured. I think I can be an elite shutdown defenseman, and I look forward to bringing that (to the Rangers)."
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