Wolf Pack Weekly: Rangers make no major changes to AHL roster

Tomas Jurco

The trade deadline for the Hartford Wolf Pack was quiet. The New York Rangers did not tinker with the AHL roster, except with one addition. Going forward the rest of the season, the group is expected to remain the same until we reach April. As we enter this week, Hartford is still far from the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Hartford has a busy week ahead with three games on tap to end February and begin March. Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Hartford is tied for seventh in the Atlantic Division with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Hartford has a record of 23-25-6-3.

AHL

Standings Update & Positioning

The Wolf Pack are nine points out from a playoff spot. On the plus side, the Pack has won a string of games as of late and has kept up with the bottom tier teams. Hartford is now tied for seventh and is able to reach as high as sixth depending on the outcome of other games this week.

If Hartford continues to pick up points, they have to act fast if they want to jump up in the standings. Here are a few teams that Hartford could jump or be within reach of with the scenario of a Hartford win plus these teams losing:

  • 7th- Springfield Thunderbirds – Tied
  • 6th- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – four points ahead
  • 5th- Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Five points ahead

These are teams Hartford can creep up to in the standings. In fact, the next two weeks feature multiple games against Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After this weekend is complete, we will go from there and revisit the standings if it is worth to do so.

You can check the 2019 AHL Playoff Primer here as this is updated daily.

Information To Know

In addition to the trade deadline passing on Monday in the National Hockey League, there was another deadline that loomed in the AHL at 3pm.

The Rangers have elected to not assign any prospect to Hartford before the deadline. That means players such as Lias Andersson, Boo Nieves, and Connor Brickley will not be able to return to Hartford for the remainder of this season.

Normally teams will assign prospects to their minor league teams as a paper transaction. Then the following day, call them back up. This tells a story of how New York is not expecting Hartford to make the postseason.

Another deadline of note is the AHL’s trade and loan deadline. The deadline is strictly for players on AHL contracts, and I do not expect movement from Hartford here.

Farm Report: Injuries, Contracts, Roster Movements

This week featured a bit of news regarding multiple aspects of Hartford’s roster.

  • Two Players Return Next Season
  • Transactions
    • Defenseman Matt Finn has been released from his PTO.
    • Defenseman Julius Bergman joins Hartford as he was acquired in the trade involving former Ranger, Adam McQuaid.
  • Injury Updates
    • Ville Meskanen was injured in the opening shift of Saturday’s game, and he did not play on Sunday. I suspect a lower-body injury, around his knee and foot area. He was limping off the ice after a collision with a Providence player along the boards.
    • Brandon Crawley is still out for a brief period with an upper-body injury.

Steven Fogarty Impresses

The Rangers prospect found his offensive touch again. Sunday’s game against Providence was the Steven Fogarty show, as the forward notched a hat trick plus one assist. Check out his goals here.

In addition to two of the goals being shorthanded, Fogarty is now the third player in franchise history to register two shorthanded goals in the same game.

The prospect is on a six-game point streak and has points in seven of his last eight games (7 goals, 6 assists for 13 points). The hot hand continues as we enter into this week’s games. Impressive playing by the forward in the last few weeks.

One Timers

  • Vinni Lettieri has points in seven straight games (5 goals, 5 assists for 10 points). Check out his shorthanded beauty here.
  • John Gilmour and Steven Fogarty are tied for points on the team at 39.
  • Matt Beleskey hasn’t recorded a point in his last four games. In addition, the veteran has not scored a goal in 19 games. He is looking to break that spell.
  • Sean Day continues to produce points. He has points in four of his last five games (2 goals, 3 assists for 5 points).
  • Ty Ronning has goals in back to back games.
  • Hartford has three shorthanded goals in the last two games.

Upcoming Games

Wednesday, February 27th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the third of six meetings against the Hershey Bears. This is the first time Hershey is in Hartford this season.
  • Hershey’s 16 game winning streak ended on Sunday against Bridgeport as the Sound Tigers won 5-1. The Bears were on a 16-0-0-1 streak before the regulation loss.
  • Hartford is 0-1-1 in the season series against Hershey. The first meeting ended in a shootout loss on November 4th and the second meeting was a 6-3 defeat on December 8th.
  • Hershey is third in the Atlantic Division with a record of 31-21-0-3 for 65 points.

Friday, March 1st vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7:05 pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the eighth of ten meetings in the season series. Hartford is 3-4 against Springfield entering the contest.
  • Springfield has stumbled this season, going from one of the top teams to now a tie with Hartford for last. The Thunderbirds are 2-7-0-1 in the last ten games.
  • Depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game between Hartford and Hershey, the Pack may be ahead of Springfield entering Friday’s game.
  • This is the third meeting in Springfield. Hartford is 1-1 this season at the Mass Mutual Center.
  • The Thunderbirds record is 22-23-6-5 for 55 points.

Saturday, March 2nd vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 7:30 pm, XL Center

  • This is the fifth of six meetings against the Penguins. Hartford is 1-2-1 in the season series.
  • The Penguins are 26-22-5-2 for 59 points and is ahead of Hartford by four points. The Penguins are sixth in the Atlantic Division.
  • The Penguins are 4-4-1-1 in their last ten meetings.