Rangers Making Moves In Hartford
The second day of NHL free agency had direct impacts on the 2018-19 Hartford Wolf Pack roster. Scott Kosmachuk parted ways with the organization following a strong and dominant year with Hartford. Bobby Butler, Drew Melanson, and Jason Salvaggio all joined the Wolf Pack on American Hockey League contracts. Hartford is not done making moves despite retaining the majority of last season’s roster. Chris Drury must address the need to bring in additional veterans for leadership and helping the prospects adjust to the professional game. Hartford’s signings do not affect the cap for the Rangers, nor do they add to the roster limit of the organization, as AHL deals are solely for Hartford. This means that these players cannot be called up to New York. Similar to Scott Kosmachuk, they must prove they are worthy of a two-way deal from the Blueshirts.
The 31-year-old veteran returned to the American Hockey League last season with the Milwaukee Admirals. Prior to returning to the AHL, Bobby Butler spent two seasons in Europe playing for Modo in Sweden and both Medveščak Zagreb and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. The veteran forward is known around the AHL as an offensive force. Since his return to North America, Butler notched 24 goals and 21 assists for 45 points in 67 games with Milwaukee. He is expected to be a high-impact player for Hartford on the scoresheet. In addition to his offensive firepower, the forward is a natural leader that will help the prospects on and off the ice. He has gone through battles in each season, knowing that each game matters if Hartford wants to make the postseason. He is a well-rounded forward that is a good fit for Hartford. Chris Drury found the player that will go above and beyond night in and out. It may be early, but Hartford may possibly found their next captain.
Drew Melanson and Jason Salvaggio Earn Full Season With Hartford
Melanson joins Hartford after playing in five games with the club last season on an amateur tryout. The 23-year-old forward from Boston University notched 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points in 40 games in Hockey East action. In the five-game stint with Hartford, he recorded an assist. The prospect impressed Chris Drury enough to earn himself a full AHL deal with the club and has the potential to develop into a good player. Where he will end up, either in Hartford or Maine, will be up to the forward.
Similar to Melanson, Jason Salvaggio is a 23-year-old forward that joined Hartford late last season after finishing up his college career at UNH. In 36 games, the forward notched eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 36 games of Hockey East action.
Salvaggio impressed Chris Drury enough to give him a try for a spot in Hartford. The prospect is young and will also have a lot of learning to do. The forward is in the same exact situation as Drew Melanson. Both have potential but will be playing in their first pro seasons.
If one or both of the forwards start in Maine, that will be fine. It just means they need more seasoning before getting the call-up to Hartford. The ECHL is a good league for first-year players if they are unable to handle the AHL right away.
Scott Kosmachuk Departs
This one stings. Scott Kosmachuk, who was arguably Hartford’s best forward last season, has left Hartford to join the Colorado Avalanche organization. The forward earned himself a one-year, two-way deal with Colorado. Last season, Kosmachuk joined Hartford through an AHL deal and his hard work and production paid off for a well- deserved contract with a National Hockey League club.
Unfortunately, the Rangers organization and Chris Drury let a solid prospect go. The 23-year-old had high potential after what I witnessed last season. He was impressive on both ends of the ice and, in my opinion, earned himself a contract extension. He could have fit perfectly for New York. They need a power forward who is able to fight, score, and become a difference maker in tough situations. He would have had an opportunity to join New York since they are rebuilding.
Although it is common for players to come and go in the AHL, I thought he did enough to earn another contract from the Rangers. But, players will join different organizations for better opportunities, and the large turnover rate is part of the league life. This was unfortunate to happen, but life goes on. Perhaps they saw something that I did not see.