Rangers rookie makes NHL debut with Erik Gustafsson sidelined by injury

Brandon Scanlin
Brandon Scanlin Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack

Brandon Scanlin will be the fourth New York Rangers rookie to make his NHL debut this season when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old defenseman joins forwards Adam Edstrom, Brennan Othmann and Matt Rempe to play his first NHL game this season for the Rangers.

Scanlin replaces Erik Gustafsson, who has an upper-body injury. Gustafsson appeared to have taken an elbow to the head from Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart during overtime in New York’s 4-3 shootout win on Saturday.

With Gustafsson, who didn’t practice Monday, out, the Rangers are missing three of their regular defensemen. Jacob Trouba will miss his 10th straight game with a lower-body injury. And Ryan Lindgren is out for his fourth game in a row with a lower-body injury.

Lindgren did skate at practice Monday in a no-contact jersey. Both he and Trouba took part in the optional morning skate Tuesday.

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Brandon Scanlin could make NHL debut for Rangers against Flyers

Brandon Scanlin Photo Credit - Hartford Wolf Pack
Brandon Scanlin – Photo Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack

The slew of injuries on the Rangers blue line, and another in Hartford, has opened the door for Scanlin to make his NHL debut Tuesday.

Scanlin was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League after Lindgren was injured against the New York Islanders on March 17. If Connor Mackey had been healthy, he likely would have been called up instead. But the 27-year-old defenseman, who impressed with the Rangers in a Jan. 27 cameo against the Ottawa Senators, is out with an upper-body injury.

So, Scanlin was the extra defenseman for New York the past three games. An undrafted free agent, Scanlin is in his second full professional season and leads Wolf Pack defensemen with eight goals.

“He’s played really well for them, (Hartford). Steady defenseman, big, strong,” Laviolette said about Scanlin. “So, if that does happen, we’re excited to get him in and see him play.”

Overall Scanlin has 16 points and 39 penalty minutes in 57 games this season. He had 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 61 AHL games last season, when he posted a plus-21 rating.

Scanlin also had one assist in 15 games with Hartford in 2021-22 after completing his collegiate career at University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Sixteen other players from Nebraska-Omaha have played in the NHL, including Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler and two-time Stanley Cup champion Jake Guentzel.

Will Cuylle returns to Rangers lineup against Flyers

NHL: New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Laviolette did confirm that Will Cuylle will be back in the lineup against the Flyers. Cuylle was a healthy scratch for the win against the Panthers.

The rookie forward played the first 70 games this season before he was scratched Saturday. Laviolette explained at the time that with 13 forwards deserving to play and the playoffs three weeks away, there will be some lineup decisions made on a game-in, game-out basis down the stretch of the season.

Cuylle, who leads the Rangers and all NHL rookies with 227 hits, practiced in his normal third-line spot on Monday. The 22-year-old is tied for seventh among NHL rookies with 12 goals this season.

Alex Wennberg is a healthy scratch for personal reasons.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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