New York Rangers prospect Tim Gettinger had a slow start to his third season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack but something clicked for the big 23-year-old forward about a month ago.
Gettinger had points in three of his first 10 games of the season before going on a four-game scoring streak, starting on March 25. Since the 25th, Gettinger has piled up 12 points, including six goals, in his last 10 games. With just a few games left on Hartford’s schedule, he’s tied for second on the team in scoring with Ty Ronning with 16 points.
At least part of the story here is the law of averages. Gettinger had just one goal on his first 25 shots of the season and came into the season with a 13.45 shooting percentage. Another part of the story is likely the delayed start and the general chaos surrounding the 2021 AHL season. The Wolf Pack are one of three teams in the Atlantic Division, which means that they’ve only been playing the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Providence Bruins since things got rolling in February.
As strange as this season has been for the Rangers, it’s been even more bizarre for the Wolf Pack.
Taking that all into consideration only makes Gettinger’s accelerated production more encouraging. Heading into this season, he was a 0.46 P/GP player in the AHL — so 16 points in 20 games is definitely noteworthy. More importantly, 15 of those 16 points have been primary. Gettinger is getting more comfortable making plays at the pro level by using his big 6-foot-6 frame. His mass creates space and opportunity for his teammates when he carries the puck, which is one explanation for his primary assist numbers this year.
“I think from that first year until now, it’s been about learning that pro style of play,” he said in a recent interview with the Trentonian. “Coming from juniors to pro, it’s a big jump. You’re playing more games here, and you can’t take any nights off. It was learning that, at all times, I’ve got to be moving my feet, be physical, use my size. That’s something from my first year, on to this year, I’ve learned that night in and night out, that I have to do.”
With Gettinger on the ice, the Wolf Pack have a +4 EV goal differential; without him, they have a -4 differential — which suggests that things tend to go well for Hartford when he’s on the ice. His 10.82 Rel EV GF% ranks fourth among Wolf Pack forwards. Gettinger can take the body, kill penalties, and he’s proving to be a player to watch on the man advantage. He’s second on the Wolf Pack with five power-play goals this year and is second only to promising rookie Morgan Barron (8) in primary points on the advantage (7).
Looking at the big picture, Gettinger is continuing to show signs of being an intriguing future bottom-six presence on the wing for the Rangers. There aren’t a lot of players who have his size who can skate like he can. There’s also some evidence of improved discipline: he’s taken three minor penalties this year and has dropped the gloves twice — which is another element the Rangers might be looking for him to bring to the table.
The Rangers obviously have plenty of prospects and young players with higher ceilings and more potential than Gettinger but he still has room to carve out a niche role for himself as a big, punishing defensive forward who can be a nightmare in front of the net and in puck battles in the offensive zone. He’s on the last year of his entry-level contract and has definitely shown the front office something over the last month or so. Given what he’s shown this year in Hartford, it would be surprising if the Rangers choose not to keep the former 5th round pick in the picture.