Rangers need to decide on Chris Bigras’ fate in Hartford

Bigras (Hartford Wolf Pack)

Acquired by the New York Rangers at the 2018 trade deadline, Chris Bigras brings in a well rounded element to the Wolf Pack’s defensive corp. The 24 year old defenseman suffered a season ending injury on February 13th against the Toronto Marlies. After spending a season and half with the organization, Chris Bigras’s contract is up at a time where the blue line is crowded from the top to bottom.

The Rangers dealt their former prospect, Ryan Graves to the Colorado Avalanche for Bigras, the sense was that both players would improve with different surroundings. Since the trade, Ryan Graves has spent time with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL along with the Avalanche. On the Rangers end, Chris Bigras only participated in AHL contests. One can argue whether the trade was justified or not, but at the end of the day, Ryan Graves didn’t look like he would be seeing ice time at the Garden anytime soon.

On Chris Bigras’ impacts in the AHL, I see the defenseman as a depth player that contributes in all areas of the game. He can produce points and also is not afraid to play with an edge. When the deal was made Bigras seemed a better fit for the Wolf Pack struggling defense.

Prior to the trade, the prospect had faced many lengthy injuries which set him back. Despite getting the looks, the defenseman was unable to recover and blossom in the Avalanche organization. Eventually, he landed in New York and in a Hartford uniform. He adjusted well and seemed to fit in nicely along with the other defenseman in Hartford.

This past season, the defenseman entered his full first season with the Wolf Pack. The Rangers did not give Chris Bigras a look due to serious competition on the blue line, which is expected considering younger prospects are entering the system and have higher potential than the older prospect. That did not change Chris Bigras’s attitude or play in Hartford. He continued to develop and often struggled along with fellow players due to the lackluster Wolf Pack roster.

Chris Bigras can be described as a streaky defenseman. When he gets buzzing, he can play well consistently in contests. When he’s cold, he struggles but still works hard. In his limited action of 52 games, the prospect notched 3 goals, 19 assists for 22 points with a +/- of +5 and 36 in penalty minutes. In his 18 games of the 2017-18 season, he recorded 2 goals, 11 assists for 13 points with a +/- of -3 and 14 penalty minutes.

The question now is did he do enough to deserve a contract extension with the New York Rangers. This decision will be difficult considering the circumstances. The organization will have to see if he is truly a fit within New York, Hartford, or Maine. The majority of Hartford’s defenseman are coming back, which makes a justification for not renewing the prospect due to competition and also incoming players.

So has Chris Bigras impressed Chris Drury? One option that is possible is Hartford can sign players to AHL deals. Perhaps this is the route to go. This would be beneficial as Chris Bigras would not be a part of the cap space for New York, but gives the organization an option for Hartford or Maine. On the flip side he may not be worth a contract slot, as opposed to someone who’s younger with more promise. Ideally, I’d like to see him return through an AHL deal.

We shall see.