Rangers to give Adam Edstrom ‘a look’ as Tyler Pitlick clears waivers

NHL: Preseason-New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
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With the NHL trade deadline three weeks away, Adam Edstrom is going to get a chance to prove he belongs with the New York Rangers. At the same time, veteran Tyler Pitlick will need to figure out his future after clearing waivers Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, Pitlick went unclaimed and the Rangers assigned him to Hartford of the American Hockey League. The 32-year-old forward last played in the AHL in the 2015-16 season when he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization. Pitlick’s demotion follows the Rangers terminating Nick Bonino’s contract to make room for Jonny Brodzinski.

Coach Peter Laviolette said this was simply a “hockey decision.” He added that the Rangers want to see what they have in Edstrom, the 6-foot-7 rookie, who was recalled from Hartford to take Pitlick’s place on the fourth line against the Calgary Flames on Monday.

“He’s a big, young, fast, strong player that we feel deserves a look and some games,” Laviolette explained after practice Wednesday. “So, that’s where the decision was made.”

Edstrom was credited with three hits in 9:23 of ice time, skating 15 shifts with Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow in the 2-0 win against the Flames. It was his second NHL game this season after the 23-year-old scored a goal in his NHL debut on Dec. 15 against the Anaheim Ducks.

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Adam Edstrom swaps spots with Tyler Pitlick for Rangers

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Laviolette contended that Edstrom deserved this opportunity, likely more than Pitlick deserved the demotion.

“Just the season that he’s had, the training camp he had, the way he came in, the way he impressed us up here,” Laviolette explained. “We’re excited to get him going.”

Playing his first pro season in North America after being selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of Sweden, Edstrom has eight goals and 10 points in 25 AHL games. He missed some time with an upper-body injury and only returned to action last week. So, Laviolette said the Rangers still need to get the rookie “up to speed.”

There’ll be no shortage of veteran bottom-six forwards available ahead of the trade deadline, leaving Edstrom a short runway to prove he can hold down a regular job in the NHL.

“Every time you get called up, it’s an opportunity,” Edstrom told the New York Post after his most recent recall. “I’m here to capitalize on that opportunity.”

A trade for a third-line center like Adam Henrique could snuff out that opportunity for Edstrom, too. Such a move would likely force a move of Brodzinski to the fourth line, despite his successful run with Kaapo Kakko and Will Cuylle on the third line.

In that scenario, Edstrom could be the odd man out. 

For now.

Because it appears that Edstrom is carving out a future with the New York Rangers.

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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