Last night, the New York Rangers signed defenseman Libor Hajek to a one-year, two-way contract.
Hajek, 23, was the 37th overall pick (2nd round) of the 2016 NHL Draft. He was acquired by the Rangers in the trade that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since joining the Rangers, the Czech defenseman has failed to live up to expectations.
Hajek had two goals and two assists in 44 games with the Rangers last season and now has 77 games of NHL experience to his name. Speaking generally, he had the worst underlying numbers on the Rangers’ blue line in 2020-21 and struggled to prove he was ready to play defense against NHL competition. If not for the Rangers shutting down Tony DeAngelo, it’s unlikely Hajek would have been able to stay in the lineup for as long as he did.
Heading into training camp, Hajek has an uphill battle to reclaim the role and ice time that he had with the team last season. He averaged 15:16 TOI/GP and averaged just over one blocked shot per game last season.
Libor Hajek (signed a deal to continue to play for the rangers) is, by definition, an nhl player. pic.twitter.com/01tuYjWTdG— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) September 5, 2021
According to CapFriendly, Hajek was the Rangers’ last remaining restricted free agent that needed a contract this offseason.