a new season. Veterans understand this and are naturally accustomed to it, but if you’re a youngster such as Vitali Kravtsov, every minute counts.
It’s why when he left the season opener due to injury, which another one subsequently followed upon returning two weeks later along with a toothache and stomach flu, fans started to call for him to be traded, and while that may transpire should management lure a big piece at the trade deadline, the Russian has at least improved his value.
Since his most recent return to the line-up, Kravtsov has learned to be more patient with the puck, leading to him connecting with his linemates for scoring opportunities. The forward’s three points in his last ten games represent signs of progress, and other clubs looking for young wingers have reportedly checked on his availability.
However, should the 23-year-old continue this upward trajectory over the next few weeks, it could sway Druy to make Zac Jones or Sammy Blais expendable instead of him.
After being recalled from the AHL on December 5th, Brodzinski has picked up one goal and one assist in his sixteen games played.
While having a grinder can create havoc for opponents, it can conversely lead to an abundance of penalties which has been his undoing, leading to him accompanying those in the press box more than being with his teammates on the ice.
He was eventually placed on waivers last week and went unclaimed by the other clubs, meaning he was back to being the leader of the Hartford Wolfpack.
As of now, the Minnesota native is the team’s extra forward and will only see extended playing time if an injury to someone on the big club arises.
D, ZAC JONES
Jones began the year battling Libor Hajek for the sixth defenseman spot but both have been usurped by Ben Harpur, and Jones was sent back to Hartford, where he became an AHL all-star, thus raising his trade value. Jones has played 16 games and has registered two points compared to Hajek’s one.
LW, SAMMY BLAIS:
Blais is essentially still working his way back from the ACL injury he sustained last season, but even with the timid aspirations, things haven’t gone well. Yes, the winger brings the physicality coaches desire out of fourth-line players and ranks third on the team with 113 hits in 38 games, yet he cannot finish his chances, as he’s still searching for the first goal of his six-year career.
The 26-year-old’s days in New York may be numbered as GM Chris Druy and CO will almost certainly look to move him and his one-year $1,525,000 contract at the trade deadline or let him walk in free agency. Blais was acquired in the 2021 offseason in a salary-dump deal that saw fan-favorite Pavel Buchnevich shipped to the St Louis Blues. New York gave him another shot last Summer following his injury-riddled 2021-22 campaign, but nothing’s changed, and he’ll likely find himself sporting another sweater sooner rather than later.
D, LIBOR HAJEK
Since the arrival of Ben Harpur, Libor Hajek has been relegated to being a healthy scratch, while his former counterpart Zac Jones has become an all-star down in Hartford. The 24-year-old rejoined the club last offseason on a one-year $800,000 deal after playing 22 games and bouncing around between Hartford and New York but has only appeared in 16 games this year.
C, RYAN CARPENTER
Carpenter has one goal, two assists, and three points in the 21 games. Moreover, he was brought here over the Summer on a one-year $750K deal primarily to win faceoffs, and although he’s done that at a 54% clip for the season, that’s not good enough when it’s your specialty.
As a result of his underwhelming play, the 32-year-old was demoted to Hartford on January 18th, where he’s been ever since. Down in the AHL, Carpenter has recorded 11 goals and 20 points in 21 games, but barring an injury, isn’t expected to be recalled as the Rangers like what they have in Jake Leschyshyn, Will Cuylle/Sammy Blais, and Julien Gauthier as their fourth line.