Libor Hajek may find it much harder to make the Rangers this season

“I want to prepare well and be one hundred percent ready for Rangers camp,” Libor Hajek said in a Czech interview soon after the team was eliminated by the Hurricanes. “I have a goal to grab a spot on big club, I want to do my best for it. “

That may be much harder now after the addition of Jack Johnson and the emergence of Tarmo Reunanen in Finland.

Libor Hajek could be outside looking in

Libor Hajek, now 22 years-old made quite an impression during the 2018-19 season where he played 5 games and scored a great goal before having his season end early due to a separated shoulder.

Coming into this last season, Libor made the team out of camp and was partnered on left defense with Adam Fox. The two rookies had some puck management issues and were separated with Hajek finding himself playing mostly with Jacob Trouba.

Libor Hajek
Libor Hajek celebrates his first NHL goal (Newsday Photo)

In 28 games he tallied 5 assists but struggled at times. He was eventually sent down to Hartford to continue his development. He picked up 3 points playing for the Wolf Pack in 23 games.

It’s expected the Rangers will give him a legit chance to earn a spot this upcoming season. Word from inside the organization is they are still high on him but he’s going to find it harder to make the starting lineup.

The rise of Tarmo Reunanen

The Rangers are flirting with the idea of moving Tony DeAngelo to his off-side on left defense. They also signed Jack Johnson to a one year deal, but the rise of Tarmo Reunanen will make it hard for Hajek to make the team.

Reunanen dominated TUTO, Finland’s second tier league with 9 points in 7 games. Now the 22 year-old rearguard has worked out a deal with HPK in Liiga which is the top league in Finland. In 6 games of action, he has 2 points (1G,1A) and is averaging well over 24 minutes per game.

Reunanen is playing #1 defenseman minutes for HPK. He’s doing so while flashing signs that he’s ready to fight and win a starting job with the Rangers. All of these factors will make it very hard for Libor Hajek to earn a role on the Rangers top six defense.

RELATED: Tarmo Reunanen looking like a starter for NYR

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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