Earlier today, the Rangers made a surprising move when they sent rookie defenseman Matt Gilroy to the AHL. It was expected that Ilkka Heikkinen would be the odd man out with the return of Wade Redden from injury but the Blueshirts decided to keep the recent call up with the big club and send the impressive first year blue liner down for some work on his overall game.
According to assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld, Gilroy was demoted because the team felt that Gilroy’s game had been ” chinking down, in small increments, not just one thing, his entire game, all season.” Schoenfeld also added “Probably the biggest area of concern was winning one on one battles and closing checks out with strength or speed or guile”. When asked about how the team views Gilroy, Schoenfeld offered “We still have high expectations but some things can’t be overlooked unless you’re putting up big numbers and six points is not…It’s part of the process that a lot of first year players go through, they come into camp in tremendous condition and get a head start and then the league kind of catches up with some people.”
I understand this move from a growth standpoint for Gilroy but to say his game was suffering and that the “league has caught up to him” is a joke. Michal Roszival has been a distaster this season and looks like he is all but washed up at this point in his career but still gets ice time over a promising youngster like Gilroy due to his contract. The league has obviously “caught up” to fellow rookie Michael Del Zotto as well as evidenced by his declining numbers and recent invisibility on the power play but I don’t see the team sending him down to “get his game back”. This is another head scratching move by Sather (who sent Schoenfeld to address the media instead of answering questions himself, of course) in a long line of head scratching personnel moves during his tenure. Just a week ago, the team paired Heikkinen with Gilroy because of his versatility and steadiness playing either side and now his game is “chinking down”?. Another suspect move by Sather and Co.
In other moves, Chad Johnson was returned to Hartford and G Matt Zaba was called up to backup Henrik Lundqvist.