A day after placing Dryden Hunt on waivers, the New York Rangers learned today that the depth forward will no longer be with the organization moving forward, as the Colorado Avalanche jumped in to claim him.
The reigning champs jump on Hunt and are willing to give him a roster spot, which should tell you about his perceived value as a depth forward around the league.— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) October 20, 2022
Tough loss for #NYR, but it was a necessity if they want to have any cap breathing room for the trade deadline. https://t.co/nET6riBnvS
The Rangers surely must have been hoping that the 26-year-old Hunt would pass through waivers so they could keep him in AHL Hartford and call him up in the event of an injury to another forward. After all, in the right role, Hunt can be an effective player. He might not offer much offense, but his defensive impacts are strong, which is ideal for a fourth-line player.
Of course, that’s exactly why a smart, winning team like the Colorado Avalanche would jump at the opportunity to add an affordable, effective option like Hunt. While the Rangers will see the benefit of a cap hit of $762,500 coming off the books and thus have more space to make a trade deadline addition or two, they lose a solid player in the short term, and the fact that a quality organization picked him up is a sign of the Rangers making a poor move. What’s even more troubling is that they still have less effective and more expensive players (namely Ryan Reaves) eating cap space and ice time.
Before losing Hunt, my pie-in-the-sky bottom-six forward corps for a fully healthy Rangers team would have looked something like:
- Line 3: Sammy Blais-Filip Chytil-Vitali Kravtsov
- Line 4: Jimmy Vesey-Barclay Goodrow-Dryden Hunt
That provides a third line with a bit more offensive upside, and a fourth line that could be excellent defensively. Of course, that’s all out the window now with Hunt’s departure. The team will likely still dress both Reaves and Ryan Carpenter more often than not, while Vitali Kravtsov will find himself in a constant battle to avoid healthy scratches.
Waiving Hunt instead of moving on from someone like Reaves (who is only still with the Rangers because they immediately extended his contract after trading for him prior to last season) shows that as far as the Rangers have progressed in the past couple of years, they are still prone to antiquated thinking a bit too often. By all accounts, Reaves is an excellent teammate and locker room presence (and I like the guy!), but in a hard-cap world, surely those elements can be found more inexpensively, and come in the package of a player who is also more effective on the ice.
At the very least, here’s to hoping that the extra cap space gained from the Hunt loss leads to the Rangers having another shrewd trade deadline like they did last year.