Marek Hrivik was recalled from Hartford on December 5th. While on the Rangers roster, he has proven to be an adequate fourth liner, posting one assist in the nine games he has played since the recall. Responsible in his own zone, with a good head for the game, Hrivik is an excellent two-way player who deserves to be in the NHL. But, his days on the New York roster are numbered, which is why he should not play another NHL game and to be returned to Hartford asap.
Why you may ask?
It is a technicality, but if Hrivik plays in his 10th NHL game this season, he is subject to waivers going back down. And don’t kid yourself, the responsible fourth liner, making only $600,000 this season, will likely be claimed.
So, why not cut someone else and leave Hrivik on the roster?
Later in the season, Hrivik may actually be needed. Right now, he is an interchangeable part, who is really needed in Hartford. With Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich all out, Hrivik is just a placeholder here. But he is not really the type of placeholder that is needed on this team. The team already has Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Oscar Lindberg, all of whom can serve a similar function to Hrivik and cannot be sent to Hartford without going through waivers.
What none of Hrivik, Pirri, Puempel or Lindberg can do is be a gritty, tough player, that can fight, if necessary. And that is what is really needed from a fourth liner right now. What the Rangers desperately need is a player that can show other teams that New York will not be pushed around. That no one will be able to take advantage of New York players without risking taking a pounding from a tough guy.
The need for grit was particularly obvious when Lundqvist was run over by Cody Eakin of the Dallas Stars last week. It was ugly, and not a Rangers player responded. Since then, there have been slashes, knees astray, and general dirty play that has not been answered. It has to stop, and it has to stop now.
As Larry Brooks wrote in the NY Post yesterday, the Rangers need to immediately recall Tanner Glass. Glass may not be more than a borderline NHL player, but he provides the edge that will keep other teams honest. And will keep Rangers players from further injury.
It is nothing against Hrivik that he should be the one sent down. Although it will be disappointing for him, for sure. But there will be a place for Hrivik in the NHL (either later in the season or next year). It just is not with this team, not now.
This is an easy call for Jeff Gorton and the Rangers staff. Just make the call, and do it before tomorrow night.