New York Rangers’ toughest battle in Training Camp will be for 6th & 7th defensemen

Frank Curto
zac jones, new york rangers
Feb 27, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones (6) skates with the puck in front of Vancouver Canucks center Matthew Highmore (15) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Ranger’s toughest competition will be at defense, where four players will battle for the sixth and seventh slots when players hit the ice on Thursday.

The New York Rangers have another strong defensive core this season. Their top four of Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, and K’ Andre Miller may be one of the best two pairs in the National Hockey League.

Braden Schneider, for now, holds the fifth defensive slot. Three players will battle for the sixth and the seventh slot in what should be a hard-fought fight to the last days of camp.

Who Wins The Opening Night Battle On Defense

The Blueshirts have four players who will compete for two slots on the roster.

Zac Jones

To be clear, the sixth slot is Zac Jone’s to lose. He played in just 12 games for the Blueshirts last season. Though disappointed when he was sent down to Hartford of the AHL, he felt the move was best to improve his game. Last week he was part of the team’s Rookie Camp, and in their two games against the Flyers rookies, he wore the “C” as he looked to work with the other players and learned how to be a pro on and off the ice.

Libor Hajek

Libor Hajek has been with the Rangers since the 2018-’19 season and has appeared in 94 games in his career. The 24-year-old has never been able to take charge on the ice and has mainly served as the seventh defenseman ( where I believe he will this season). The most games he has played in the NHL was 44 during the 2020-’21 season.

Matthew Robertson

Matthew Robertson, selected in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, has not played a game in the NHL. Last season as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack, he played in 65 games recording 11 points (one goal).

Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski signed a PTO last week with the team and was invited to camp. The 34-year-old defenseman is a 10-year NHL veteran but has not appeared in more the 24 games since the 2016-’17 season. Last year he played in the AHL for Wilkes- Berrie/Scranton Penguins.

Prediction

Zac Jones will win the sixth slot and be paired with Braden Schneider. Libor Hajek will be the seventh defenseman, the same role he was in last season.

Robertson will be sent back to Hartford, but he will get an opportunity to play with the Blueshirts this season, being the next defenseman called upon when the time arises.

Bartkowski will most likely be released. he was brought in to add to the competition factor on the blueline, but with the team loaded with the defenseman throughout the organization, it is doubtful he will be signed.

MSG Networks Announces Special Programming in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

MSG Networks today announced a month-long lineup of special programming to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

The commemorative coverage will run through October 15th and celebrate the
cultures and histories of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, and other Hispanic countries in the Caribbean,
Central and South America.

Some of the individuals that will be featured include baseball legend, Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, two-time Stanley Cup Champion Scott Gomez, who became the first Hispanic player to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 2000, and three-time major golf champion Nancy Lopez, who was the first Hispanic woman to ever compete on the LPGA Tour.

As part of Rangers Hispanic Heritage Night at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, October 20 th, MSG
Networks will provide a Spanish-language audio broadcast of the Rangers game versus San Jose that
night at 7:00 pm ET. The additional audio will be available by selecting the SAP setting on the broadcast,
marking the first time the network has ever offered a Spanish audio call of an NHL game.

Some of the additional Hispanic Heritage Month content airing throughout the month will include:


-A sit-down interview with former Giants star Victor Cruz and current Giants offensive lineman Jon
Feliciano on their Hispanic heritage. Cruz and Feliciano will share about their culture and dish on
everything from family to football to food and more
-Profiles on authentic Hispanic food establishments throughout New York City, including Queens
restaurant The Freakin Rican and the popular Red Hook food vendors in Brooklyn
-Interview with award-winning baker Bryan Ford exploring the different variations of empanadas
-Feature on menswear designer and Honduras-born Ijay Sanchez on his career in fashion. (per MSG Networks release)

Follow Frank on Twitter at @RangerProud