Neill usually handles “Four Thoughts” but he is computer-less at the moment so with the Rangers returning from break this afternoon, I’m taking a stab at it.
1. To the surprise of no one, Pavel Buchnevich was recalled from the Wolfpack in time for practice this afternoon. Him being sent down was a conditioning assignment disguised as a demotion for cap purposes. Do the Rangers need to save cap space at the moment? Not at all. But they are saving it for when the trade deadline comes. Which always worries me…
2. That’s the good news. The bad news is Marc Staal won’t be there as Larry Brooks confirmed what a lot of us feared – he is dealing with post concussion symptoms. I don’t want to say Staals’ “upper body injury” was obvious but the Rangers have been very forthcoming with injury news this season. With Staal, he randomly couldn’t play in Philadelphia after finishing the game against Buffalo (his last shift ended with a minute to go and there were no obvious gaps in playing time). He was also ruled out of the next game as well with this mysterious “upper body injury”. To me, that said concussion all over it. I was hoping when Vigneault said he was “day to day” before the Columbus game that I was wrong but I wasn’t. As much as the team needs him back, there can be no rushing this. They say each concussion takes longer to heal from and this is his third so I’m guessing we won’t be seeing him any time soon.
3. For better or worse, that injury allows Adam Clendening to play on a regular basis. We’ll see if he is what everyone thinks and wants him to be. Up front it starts to get complicated. Nick Jensen was sent back before the break. But with Buchnevich ready, that leaves the Rangers with 13 healthy forwards plus Zibanejad (who is close to returning) and Puempel (who my guess is not close but who knows). They can stay with 13 but doubt they keep 14 forwards when Zibanejad is ready so who goes? My guess is Hrivik but he will need waivers to be sent down. In this case, I would risk it. But when it comes to the next cut, we might see a trade instead.
4. Yesterday, the Rangers extended their agreement with Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the providers of Venue Management to the XL Center through the 2017-18 season meaning the Wolf Pack will remain in Hartford at least through next season. I know there has been some rumors of the Rangers moving or changing their AHL affiliate but those continue to seem unsubstantiated. Hartford is a quick drive to and from New York City so unless the Rangers can somehow manage to get closer, I don’t see a change happening any time soon.
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)