NY Rangers rookies Morgan Barron and Zac Jones have uphill battles to make the team

Morgan Barron and Zac Jones have an uphill battle.

By Forever Blueshirts
morgan barron rangers
May 1, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Morgan Barron (47) plays the puck against New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers officially open up Development Camp yesterday. Goaltending workouts with Benoit Allaire started off the day and was followed up with on-ice testing for the remaining skaters.

In total, there are 16 forwards, 8 defenseman, and 3 goalies at the MSG Training Center.

Today’s schedule includes Group 1 Practice from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM and Group 2 Practice starting at 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET.

Two players that played late last season for the Blueshirts are forward Morgan Barron and defenseman Zac Jones. Both will have an uphill battle to try and make the Rangers this season.

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Morgan Barron must impress at center

At 6-4, 220 lbs and 22 years-old, Barron can play a physical and heavy game. There’s also an element of offense as he scored 21 points in 21 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season.

In his brief 5 game stint with the big club at the end of the year, he scored a goal in 13:41 of average ice time. He also used his size very well accumulating 12 hits in those contests. Regarding draws, he went 9-18 for 50%. The sixth round pick from 2017 should have an immediate role and impact on the team’s bottom six next season for Gerard Gallant.

This season, Barron may find it tough to crack the lineup since Drury told the media before Development Camp started that he sees both him and Filip Chytil as centers.

“Fil has played a lot of center and has continued to grow, and as we all know, he’s still only a young kid and still learning in a lot of different ways playing a tough position in the best league in the world,” Drury said. “So for me, I’d like to give him every chance to be a center and keep evolving at that role.”

That puts Barron in a bit of a hole if Chytil is already being eyed as a center on the third line with newly signed Barclay Goodrow ready to step in. The Rangers also protected Kevin Rooney in the Seattle Expansion draft who was their 4th line center last season.

Is it possible for Rooney to start the season on the wing with Barron at center and Reaves on the opposite flank? Sure, but that would leave out Sammy Blais from the lineup which seems unlikely.

“My goal this year is to make it out of camp and stick the whole year round with the big club,” Barron said after day one of Development Camp. “With the new coaching staff the message has been clear this offseason, they want to be a team to be tougher to play against and those are things I feel I can add to this lineup.”

Barron sitting in the stands as the 13th forward makes no sense for his development. In order to avoid that, he will need to impress at camp or he will likely start in Hartford.

Zac Jones almost certain to star in Hartford

In 2019, the Rangers made their third round selection by taking a U.S. born defenseman, Zac Jones. Last season, for UMASS he collected 8 goals and 23 points n 27 games to go with a +16 rating. He ranked third for all NCAA defensemen with 46 points dating back to the 2020.

Zac Jones
Apr 22, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Zac Jones #6 of the New York Rangers skates a solo lap to start warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Jones joined the Rangers late in the season and played in 10 games recording 4 assists. He certainly did not look out of place and was extremely poised.

“I’m not coming in as bright-eyed,” Jones said yesterday. I’m more comfortable (coming in) now. Less tense then last year.”

The 20 year-old Jones is a left-handed defenseman who could likely play both sides. As of right now, Nemeth has taken his spot. If Lundkvist struggles there is a possibility Jones could slide right in. That isn’t a given since the Rangers added big bruising left-handed defenseman Jarred Tinordi this offseason as well, but the vet is more likely penciled as the 7th defenseman.

Jones, to his credit is mature for his age and realized what the road is ahead.

“I’m coming in trying to make the team, I know it’s going to be difficult and I don’t have a spot,” Jones admitted. “If I get sent down to the AHL, it’s not going to be a big deal for me, I’m just going to work hard and get back to the NHL.”

Mika Zibanejad leads today’s NHL Rumors

Reports indicate the Zibanejad and the Rangers are working on a long-term deal. Also Kessel trade rumors and more. Read here.