The Rangers acquired Connor Brickley in January from the Nashville Predators for long-time AHL forward, Cole Schneider, after spending the first half of the 2018-2019 season in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals, where he registered seven goals, four assists in 39 games.
The 27-year-old forward, selected 50th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2010, was recruited by Jeff Gorton to add a little more bite to the organization. Brickley remained in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack for a month before getting his chance with the big club. With the Rangers needing bodies just prior to the trade deadline, Brickley got the call and made his Rangers debut on February 15 against the Buffalo Sabres.
It was a period of roster influx for David Quinn, who had been deploying 11 forwards and seven defensemen the prior two games while also looking for a bit more jam in his lineup.
“Guys felt like he was playing well down there, gives us a little bit of energy,” Quinn said. “Kind of what we were looking for.”
While Brickley was brought up to hopefully ease Quinn’s concerns, expectations weren’t very high. At best, he was a fourth line forward who would receive a handful of minutes. At worst, he was a warm body to be the extra forward on most nights.
Brickley started off his Rangers career with a bit of a hot streak, registering two points in his first three games, including an assist in his debut before adding a goal two games later.
Aside from his quick start, though, the remainder of the season wasn’t anything to write home about. In terms of possession metrics, Brickley ranked second-to-last with a -8.20 Rel CF% and fell to the bottom of the list with a 37.61 CF%. Brickley also averaged just 8:58 TOI/GP in the 14 games that he played with the Rangers, per Natural Stat Trick.
At the other end of the rink, Brickley was absolutely torched in the defensive zone whenever he was on the ice. The +35% threat level is way above the league average, but again, we’re looking at a very small 14-game sample. As the second chart shows, the Rangers weren’t that great of a defensive unit to being with, so the blame can’t be solely pinned on Brickley. That being said, Brickley didn’t necessarily help the Rangers very much in that department either.
Final Grade: Incomplete
Banter Consensus: Incomplete / C
Overall, it’s tough to truly judge Brickley on the 14 games he played during the 2018-2019 season. There were few — if any — expectations when he was recalled in February for the remainder of the season. As it stands right now, Brickley is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 unless the Blueshirts opt to hand the right-winger a new contract.
If they do, Brickley will likely be destined for an AHL role in Hartford with the Rangers already bringing over some of their prized forward prospects. Add Kaapo Kakko or Jack Hughes to that equation, and the Rangers will have more than enough bodies to fill out their forward lines.
2019 Report Cards: Ryan Strome / Filip Chytil / Brendan Lemieux / Tony DeAngelo / Chris Kreider / Pavel Buchnevich / Neal Pionk / Boo Nieves / Kevin Shattenkirk / Marc Staal / Jimmy Vesey / Jeff Gorton / Vladislav Namestnikov