DENVER — The Rangers waived Ryan Carpenter on Thursday, perhaps because management liked what they saw from Johnny Brodzinski — and to get back to 22 players on the roster.
Bringing a faster and more impactful game overall, Brodzinski has been a good fit on the fourth line between Sammy Blais and Julien Gauthier in the previous two events. Brodzinski started the season out of training camp with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, playing in 17 of 20 games.
“Playing hard hockey like we did last year when we called him up,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of Brodzinski. “That line was really good [against Vegas on Wednesday] night and even the previous game [against St. Louis], they played more minutes. They are gaining the confidence of the coaches.
“We feel good when they are on the ice. They did a lot of good things in the offensive zone. Bicycle pucks are low, not high. “They played very well as a group.”
Last season, Brodzinski played the most games for the Rangers since joining the organization as a free agent in October 2020. In 22 games, the 6-foot center had one goal and an assist in a career-high 10 penalty minutes.
“For me personally — this is my eighth year as a pro — it’s more maintenance than anything else,” Brodzinski, 29, said of his offseason focus. “Every summer I tried to get my speed up a little bit. Working on conditioning is probably the main thing for me. Coming to the camp in the best form was the most rewarding part for me.”
Along with Gauthier and Blaise, Brodzinski sees himself as a player on that line. All together, the trio could form a fast-paced unit that could provide the Rangers with energy when needed.
The Rangers practiced with the same lines they played in Wednesday night’s 5-1 win over the Golden Knights, meaning Vitaly Kravtsov could be scratched for the second straight game.
“Definitely,” Gallant said when asked if there was still much to learn about the Russian winger. “He is a young player. It’s no different from our other young players. I am happy with my composition at the moment. I like it [Barclay] Goodrow above. He played great hockey for us all year. He’s a competitive guy.
“Nothing against Kravy. I like the squad now.”