New York Rangers send down Jones, Pajuniemi as return of Gauthier and Reaves looms

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Jan 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones (6) skates with the puck during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers announced on Friday the assignments of forwards Lauri Pajuniemi and Justin Richards along with defenseman Zac Jones to the Wolf Pack from the taxi squad. All three could see action tonight as the Pack face Providence.

New York hopes to have both forwards Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves back from COVID protocol for tomorrow’s contest against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Zac Jones returned to the Wolf Pack

Jones, 21, was selected in the third round (68th overall) by the Rangers in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. In 10 games with the Rangers last season, he recorded four points (all assists). This time around, he played in three games registering no points. For the Wolf Pack, Jones has recorded 17 points in 21 games.

“He’s played really well,” Gallant said about Jones’ performance. “We know what he was from training camp on. We’ve got a lot of defensemen in our organization, he’s getting a chance and he’s played really well for two games so we’re happy.”

“I like the way he skates and he’s heady up there,” Gallant said. “He moves the puck real well. I mean the first shift the other night (against Tampa) he got toasted by Brayden Point, but who doesn’t? He rebounded from it and that’s good. We like what he brings and I like the way he carries himself on the ice.”

So will we see Jones again this season? It’s very likely, as he could be a solid defense partner with Braden Schneider.

“I believe 100% I’m a better player than I was at the end of training camp and I’m going to keep getting better,” Jones said before being sent down.

Rangers COVID situation

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Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Although there’s no official word, both Gauthier and Reaves are eligible to come off the COVID list after doing their five days of quarantine. Here’s a look at the Rangers COVID situation:

  • Julien Gauthier (Added 1/7 – eligible to return)
  • Ryan Reaves (Added 1/8 – eligible to return)
  • Gerard Gallant (Added 1/9 – eligible to return 1/14)
  • Barclay Goodrow (Added 1/10 – eligible to return 1/15)
  • Alexis Lafrenière (Added 1/13 – eligible to return 1/18)

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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