Which Rangers tryout candidate should get a look from the Wolf Pack
Training camp is here for the Rangers. As for the Wolf Pack, their training camp will begin in mid to late September, around when the Rangers do their first round of cuts. This year’s camp features four players that are trying out for the big club.
Former Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale players Connor Brickley and Michael Haley enter training camp in hopes to impress the Rangers brass. Joe Morrow and Mason Geertsen have also been invited. The situation with the cap space is a tough for the Rangers, however Hartford could give one of them a chance should they impress enough.
Looking at Hartford’s situation, they will be crowded with talented prospects and veterans as well. To be in the mix on the AHL level, these tryout players must be spectacular in order to be given any shot within the organization.
A deeper dive
Looking at the four tryout players, some are a better fit than others if they join Hartford. Let’s assess:
Connor Brickley returns to training camp after not getting an offer with New York. Last season the forward played in 13 games with Hartford (2 goals, 4 assists) and 14 games with the Rangers (1 goal, 3 assist). Prior to joining the organization through a trade, Brickley spent 39 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (7 goals, 4 assists). The 27 year old has solid experience on the AHL level while gaining additional experience in the NHL. Brickley’s playing style would fit well in Hartford as the Wolf Pack lack toughness in their lineup. The forward could provide a punch to the lineup physically.
Michael Haley is back in the organization for training camp. The former Connecticut Whale/Wolf Pack forward (Wolf Pack was briefly the Whale from 2010-2013) spent two seasons in the AHL (2012-13, 2013-14). The 33 year old has quite the impressive numbers in penalty minutes for an enforcer. He is known to drop the gloves and will stir up the pot. Haley would fit the role of a tough guy for Hartford.
Joe Morrow enters training camp after a two season campaign with the Winnipeg Jets. The 26 year old spent his first four professional seasons in the AHL, then jumped to NHL full time excluding a three game stint with the Providence Bruins in the 2016-17 season. The defenseman has become a seventh man on the blue line and has played in limited games. Given the crowded blue line, Hartford does not need another defenseman.
Mason Geertsen joins training camp after spending the last two seasons in the AHL. Last season with the Colorado Eagles, Geertsen produced 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists) in 58 games. In addition to offensive contributions, the defenseman is able to rack up high number of penalty minutes. Last season, Geertsen registered 134 penalty minutes.
As mentioned earlier, the Rangers have too many players on the blue line to justify another signing for Hartford’s blue line. The young prospect still has learning to do. On the plus, he is able to defend his teammates and is willing to drop the gloves. He can be an enforcer for the Pack, but given his position, sacrificing a prospect spot for an enforcer may not be ideal.
Pack could use toughness
Hartford has an opportunity to address toughness in their lineup as three of the four guys will address the toughness void in the lineup. The question remains if they want to take the spot of a younger player in order to do so. The AHL can be a rough and tumble league and it may be wise to have at least one tough guy in the lineup.