Carcillo fills a role for New York, which lost Derek Dorsett to a broken left fibula for the next four to six weeks.
"We pick up a player that can bring an element of toughness," coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday afternoon before the Rangers' game against the Maple Leafs. "It's an area that we felt that we needed to get a little bit better. Dan became available and we picked him up."
Carcillo, 28, appeared in 26 games this season for Los Angeles, recording a goal and an assist and piling up 57 penalty minutes. He's known for playing on the edge and has a history of suspensions, including three during the 2011-12 season.
Vigneault did not express concern over that.
"For us it's a low-risk move," the Rangers' coach said. "He's in the last year of his contract, not very expensive, and hopefully he'll come in and help us."
This is the fourth time Carcillo has been traded. The King City, Ont., native was a third-round pick of the Penguins in 2003 and has played a total of 359 games for the Coyotes, Flyers, Blackhawks and Kings.
Carcillo, who won a Stanley Cup last year with Chicago, has 89 points and 1,136 penalty minutes over his career.
According to Vigneault, the Rangers had some discussions about acquiring Carcillo before Dorsett's injury, which occurred when he tried to block a shot by Pittsburgh defenceman Olli Maatta. But the injury expedited the process.
"Not sure it would've happened this quickly," Vigneault said.
— Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at @SWhyno.