Total collapse for New York Rangers AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack

new york rangers ahl affiliate
Wolf Pack (Photo: Kelly Shea/Wolf Pack)

The New York Rangers have experienced tremendous success this season, but their AHL affiliate is on the opposite end of the spectrum.

On Friday night at home, Hartford Wolf Pack fell to the Charlotte Checkers 2-1. That loss, combined with a Bridgeport Islanders win eliminated the Pack from AHL playoff contention.

An utter and complete collapse by Hartford, who were once considered one of the top teams in the league. Since March 11, the team has won a grand total of 4 games out of 21 contests.

This means their playoff drought will now go to seven years and counting.

What went wrong for the Wolf Pack?

The short answer is everything.

Their power play went dead and their penalty killing went kaput. Defense was shaky and their lines were in a constant state of flux. You can certainly pin a lot of the issues on COVID and the reinstatement of taxi squads which decimated the team. Add in injuries to the New York Rangers for continued disruptions, but remember that many other AHL teams had to deal with those same issues.

If I had to identify the main reason for the collapse it would likely be losing their captain and best offensive player Jonny Brodzinski. He was definitely the straw that stirred the drink for the Wolf Pack.

On March 1, the Rangers called up Brodzinski for the final time and kept him. The 28 year-old was leading the Pack in scoring with 18 goals and 39 points in 36 games at the time. His last game with the team was on February 27.

It’s not hard to correlate the collapse with his absence.

What’s next for the Wolf Pack?

Hartford Wolf Pack
Kris Knoblauch (AHL/Wolf Pack)

Former Wolf Pack GM and now President and GM of the New York Rangers Chris Drury will certainly be very involved with his AHL affiliate’s future this summer.

So what happens with the Wolf Pack now? Is Kris Knoblauch in dangers of losing his job as the head coach? I doubt it, but you never know.

While winning the Calder Cup is what every AHL team strives for, their true responsibility is to develop young players. They also must align systems to that of the big club to ensure players can step right in when injuries hit. To that effect, the Hartford Wolf Pack were a major success this season.

New general manager Ryan Martin was brought in from the Detroit Red Wings organization in August. You can expect a lot of roster changes for next season that will include prospects like Brennan Othmann and Brett Berard getting star roles on the team.

Who could join the Rangers for the playoffs

There are no roster limits in the NHL playoffs and no salary cap. However, a player must be one of the 50 contracts with their rights belonging to the team prior to the NHL Trade Deadline in order to be eligible.

When the Wolf Pack season officially comes to an end on April 24, there are several players that will likely join the Rangers for the postseason. The list of potential additions is as follows:

  • Zac Jones (D)
  • Nils Lundkvist (D)
  • Jarred Tinordi (D)
  • Tim Gettinger (F)
  • Anthony Greco (F)
  • Keith Kinkaid (G)

The New York Rangers extras to date include:

  • Tyler Motte (F) Injured
  • Sammy Blais (F) Injured
  • Jonny Brodzinski (F)
  • Greg McKegg (F)
  • Julien Gauthier (F)
  • Libor Hajek (D)
  • Justin Braun (D)

The Blueshirts will conclude their regular season on April 29 in a tilt against the Washington Capitals.

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