No matter how much we choose to ignore it, injuries happen to every NHL club. Players get banged up, nicked up, and bruised just like everyone else. It is one of the reasons why teams spend some time and money building their depth in the AHL, as these players can come to define a season. Some players, like Ryan McDonagh, can even make veterans expendable (see: Rozsival, Michal). Others enter in an attempt to shake things up (Carl Hagelin) or due to large numbers of injuries (Stu Bickel). Either way, AHL depth is often an overlooked quality for perennial contenders.
As the Rangers call up more players, their depth in the AHL diminishes slightly. Gone are the big effects of Hagelin and McDonagh. Even Bickel has parlayed his call up into a two-year deal. The Rangers already have a spare forward (Michael Haley) and a spare defenseman (Steve Eminger) on the roster, but the injury bug isn’t always that friendly. As multiple players go down, others will need to be brought up.
Naturally, the role the injured player has will affect the player called up, so let’s look at the strong possibilities to fill these important roles:
Kris Newbury: Newbury, as always, will be the first call up if there’s a bottom-six injury. In fact, he may be the first call up in case of any injury. Newbury knows the Rangers, knows John Tortorella, and is very familiar with the way things are run. It all depends on the situation, but I’d expect the Rangers to shuffle the top-nine and insert Newbury on the fourth line before calling up a rookie.
Kyle Jean: Now if Newbury loses his NHL mojo, or if the Rangers lose a top six forward for an extended period of time, there is a significant chance that the rookie may see his first NHL action. While it’s important to realize that he won’t necessarily be lighting up the NHL the way he does the AHL, he still has the offensive skill to potentially contribute on the NHL club in an emergency. Jean is not going to get a call up to play on the fourth line. The organization has been very smart when it comes to bringing players up for the right situation.
Brandon Segal: Much like Newbury, Segal would be a call up if the Rangers plan to shuffle their top-nine and insert Segal on the fourth line. He is bigger than Newbury, so he may be called up for match up purposes (Flyers).
Matt Gilroy: Gilroy’s status with the Rangers is still up in the air, but it’s safe to assume the Rangers will look to ink him when the NHL resumes. With Eminger on board as the seventh defenseman, the Rangers would need two injuries on the blue line before a call up is necessary. Gilroy is the only one that really comes to mind when it comes to defensive call ups.
Sean Collins: Like Segal, Collins is one of those guys that may get a call for match up purposes. He offers a more physical game than Gilroy on the blue line, but he’s not as swift a skater. It all depends on match ups.