AHL Wolf Pack Take Two Out of Their First Three

The Hartford Wolf Pack won two of three games this past weekend–a great start to the 2021-22 season. The New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate defeated Bridgeport (4-3) and Providence (2-1), and lost to Springfield by one goal over the three contests. This was the first of six “three in threes” to be played by Hartford during the regular season. Usually a team fades as the weekend moves along playing in so many games, but the Pack just played better and better as the weekend’s contests went on. A lot of the credit goes to veteran netminder Keith Kinkaid, who was excellent in the two games in which he appeared (2 wins, 6 goals allowed, 108 saves; 1.93GAA, .935 save %). However, there were some other strong performances that the Wolf Pack demonstrated this weekend. Here is a quick report on four of the Rangers’ prospects that stood out:

Morgan Barron–Barron played so well in Hartford’s first two games, the Rangers recalled him Sunday afternoon. It was clear from the Rangers’ situation at the start of the season that, absent a trade, Barron was going to be one of the last cuts (he did not have to go through waivers to get sent down to Hartford). And prior to Kappo Kakko‘s injury, it was not clear how long he would have to stay in Hartford. But given Kakko’s injury (and subsequent placement on the IR), Barron has gained himself a little time with the big club. In Hartford this weekend, Barron was playing in all situations, was the Pack’s first line center, taking the important faceoffs, and was very visible almost every shift. He has an excellent reach and he was not afraid to be physical, while at the same time, rarely took himself out of the play. Unfortunately, absent a trade or another Blueshirts’ injury, it will be hard for Barron to stay in New York, but he potentially is an excellent third line NHL center, if not this year, then next.

Jonny Brodzinski–The Wolf Pack’s captain is in his seventh AHL season. The Rangers’ signed him to a one-year, two-way deal prior to the season, and in only three games, Brodzinski has shown why he is indispensable to the team. He played extremely well on RW with Barron at center on the top line in the first two games,  but lest you think he only performed well when Barron was on the ice with him, Brodzinski had a shorthanded goal and an assist in yesterday’s game after Barron was recalled. Brodzinski’s four points are tied for second in the AHL’s points’ lead.

Zac Jones–Today’s birthday boy (he turns 21) was very visible this past weekend. He still has some learning to do defensively before being ready for a recall to the Rangers, but Jones sees the ice very well and moves the puck extremely quickly. At present, Jones is playing on the top pairing with the very experienced Anthony Bitetto, giving him lots of opportunities to see other teams best players.

Braden Schneider–Paired with fellow rookie Matthew Robertson, Schneider has picked up where he left off when he left Hartford early to go back to junior hockey last season. It was unfortunate for Schneider’s development to have to leave for Brandon only two games into the 2020-21 season, as he clearly was ready to play at this level. But he is back and noticeable positively on the ice. It was noted yesterday that Schneider and Robertson’s pairing will be watched to make sure that they both are developing as they should–both are rookies, are only 20 years old, and are highly touted defensive prospects that could use mentoring. In post-game interviews yesterday, Head Coach Kris Knoblauch indicated that he is aware this pairing may not be permanent, but the problem is that there are five rookie blueliners on this team (plus Tarmo Reunanen, who is only a little more than a rookie himself). If only they could clone Bitetto, but absent that, rookie defensemen will have to play alongside each other if they are to get sufficient ice time to develop.

The Wolf Pack’s next game is Friday in Wilkes-Barre; Puck drop is at 7:05 pm. You can watch the game on AHLtv.




About the Author

Leslie Treff

Leslie Treff is a contributor for NY Sports Day, covering NY NHL teams. She has been covering the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils for more than 15 seasons. Leslie is a recognized expert in hockey prospects and has served as a scout for several independent agencies. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, in her former life, Leslie was an attorney in the judiciary in New York City.

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