Marek Hrivik and the case for sticking around

marek hrivik
Photo: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty

If you were to pick a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack that would be an unsung hero for the Rangers this year, my guess is Marek Hrivik wouldn’t have been your first choice. Maybe it would have been Nicklas Jensen, or perhaps Boo Nieves. Hrivik may have been in the discussion, sure, but very few would have picked him first.

But that’s exactly what Hrivik has been thus far. He doesn’t have a good offensive stat line, which just two assists in 16 games. Hrivik has been a mainstay on the fourth line for the past 16 games, providing much needed stability. He’s one of the key reasons that the Rangers have been so successful while dealing with a number of major injuries.

Just looking at the raw skill set, Hrivik is a good skater that manages the puck well. He’s been used in all situations in Hartford, which makes him a strong two-way player in the AHL. While his offensive numbers won’t translate to the NHL due to usage (fourth line vs. first line/PP time), the defensive skill set does translate.

Admittedly this is a small sample size of games, but what we’ve seen from Hrivik has been very promising. He’s been strong on the puck, makes good decisions to start the breakout, and has good positioning in his own end. He’s not perfect by any means, but he has the tools to remain an effective fourth liner.

The numbers back this up as well. Hrivik hasn’t been crushed with defensive zone starts, but hasn’t been sheltered either. He gets 48% offensive zone starts, and is third on the team in CF% at a solid 55.74%. His SCF% (quality chances) is at 51.06% (7th on the team). So the raw numbers favor him as well.

All told, these are numbers that suggest Hrivik is more than a tweener. The Rangers are certainly blessed with incredible forward depth, and as these players return Hrivik will likely be one of the players to see his name scratched off the lineup card. With Brandon Pirri struggling, it makes you wonder if Hrivik has played well enough to earn an extra look.

"Marek Hrivik and the case for sticking around", 5 out of 5 based on 7 ratings.
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  1. For years we have watched Hrivik play that same game in training camp yet be unable to make the team. I have always thought he had a skill set essential to a winner in that he has a large frame, plays even bigger than his stats, is great in the corners and is a puck control player. To me he is in the nature of a poor man’s Matteau or even a Noonan. I much prefer his game on the big squad to that of “Quicky”.

    1. Great point, he isn’t afraid to dig in the dirty areas. As for Fast, well he is the love child of AV I suspect, LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Fast is a hard nosed player, he brings it every game, and in the playoffs he seems to step it up every game as well. I don’t see Hrivik in this light, at least not yet…

      I think your being hard on Fast …

      1. Totally agree. Fast plays hard every shift and is a pretty smart player. He makes a lot of plays we don’t see on the stat sheet like when he goes in and grabs the puck after a faceoff struggle and passes it over to Girardi for a shot so Step can put in the rebound for the game 7 winner against the Caps. I think a lot of fans are rough on Fast.

        1. I don’t understand the Fast-haters. Another article came out today, this time from Brooks, confirming what’s had been reported in Newsday last year. This is what Brooks wrote about Fast…

          “There is not a forward on this team that doesn’t want this…tireless worker on his line and there isn’t a player on this team that doesn’t appreciate (his) dedication to doing the grunt work. That goes for the coaching staff and management as well”.

          Remember the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond”. In the Rangers room, it appears it’s “Everybody Loves Jesper”. This is not just an “AV thing”, as some have inaccurately made it out to be. His value is appreciated team wide. Only out here in the blogosphere is he tarred and feathered for some odd reason.

          1. Not sure who is “tarring and feathering him” and not sure who questions the mans work ethic or effort.

            What I do see is people complaining that AV thrusts Fast into the top 6 or top 9 that he doesn’t have the requisite offensive skills or ability for at the expanse of a player who does. I have zero issues or qualms with Jesper Fast on the 4th line, with some elevation to the 4th based upon injuries.

            When you’re down a goal and Fast is playing top 6 while someone with offensive skills rides the bench, don’t see how anyone can’t have an issue with that.

          2. No one hates Fast. The issue is with AV putting him in a top-six role.

            You need to learn to separate the deployment versus the player. It is possible to like a player and hate the deployment.

            1. John/Dave-

              Fair critique and I get your point. However, to say “no one hates Fast” I think is also inaccurate . Go back and look at some of the posts over the past year or so. Some were saying both last year and this year that he’s a train wreck he should not even be in the lineup or on the team.

              The usage point you make is fair. But my retort to that is twofold. First, the team has three key forwards out. So lots of guys are being asked to do more and are put into bigger roles. Second, and I don’t think this should be undersold, if he was such a liability on the top lines, why have we seen not just one but two articles in the past year from respected beat writers not only praising Fast’s contributions but also citing how EVERY forward lobbies to get that guy on their line? Is it possible that perhaps these professionals (I’m referring to the players here) have a better grasp of who should be playing in the top 6 than perhaps we do?

              My untrained eye agrees with you and John. I think he’s better suited for the 4th line, too. But hockey lines are about chemistry, and it does seem that the players believe they have a better chance for success with Fast on their line.

              1. What was the reasoning last year when we didn’t have as many injuries and Fast was continually thrust into the Top 6?

                Do you remember Fast skating in the Top 6 while recently acquired Eric Staal was playing out of position or forcing others out of position while playing bottom 6? Injuries weren’t the excuse for that.

                As for the players perspective, I’d be far more worried if the players came out and said “Oh yea we don’t want him on our line.” Players supporting another player saying they want to play for him doesn’t “move” me one way or the other. Players saying that they want NOTHING to do with another player moves me far more.

                I love Fast’s work ethic. I love his dedication and how well he fore checks. The metrics indicate that the team doesn’t play significantly defensively better or worse when he’s off ice, so he’s not a liability. However, the NYR team xGF60 goes up substantially when he is off the ice. Not a knock on the player, just that his ability to produce offense is limited.

              2. We actually did have a lot of injuries. Stepan and Nash specifically. Hayes was out of shape and ineffective. And we had less quality options depth wise to turn to.

                Obviously, players are generally going to be supportive of one another, I get that. But as I said, we now have two wells sourced articles that this support for this particular player in somewhat beyond the norm.

                The current group of Rangers forwards are about to get healthy. Let’s see how AV plays it from here.

    3. Hrivik cleared waivers when assigned to Hartford. Fast will be a regular in the NHL for the next 7-10 years — and with good reason.

  2. Responsible hard working player. But couldn’t score if his life depended on it. Makes Jan Erixon look like a sniper, just sayin’.

  3. Who sits if he stays? Nash, Buch and Zib returns. Pirri and Peumpel sit but who else if Hrivik is to stay?

    1. Jensen is already in HFD, so it’s just two players that need to sit. Guessing Pirri is one. Can keep both Puempel and Hrivik, both are cheap. Alternate based on matchup.

  4. Dave-

    You make a good point here. The problem is, with all the forward depth, how do you fit Hrivik onto the roster without a trade?

    To me, when Nash, Buch and Zib come back, I expect Pirri to be released, Peumpel to become the 13F (assuming his concussion situation isn’t a long term issue) and Hrivik to be sent back down.

    In order to keep Hrivik, what who would be sacrificed to keep him?

    1. the only options would be Lindberg or Fast. I don’t see either coming out in favor of hrivik, and it would be tough to carry three fwds in street clothes when someone could be back playing with the Pack instead

    2. JT Miller & Hrivik & 2nd round pick to the Ducks for S. Vatanen. Solves the expansion draft problem, our defensive problem and the roster problem all in one fell swoop.

      Yes, I would hate to give up JT too, but getting Vatanen would be a great move. And the Ducks need Cap relief.

      1. Sorry, I do not see how does it help with the expansion draft problem on defense, #5 and #18 both still have to be protected, and I am assuming #24 will be also. That leaves Vatanen exposed.
        On the second thought the expansion draft rules are not clear. On one hand the rule says teams can protect 7 F, 3 D, 1 G, which I guess leaves the rest of the players unprotected. On the other hand it says a minimum of 1 D, 2 F, and 1 G have to be exposed. Does anyone on this blog has a better handle on this?

        1. You can protect either 7F-3D-1G or 8 skater and a goalie.

          You must expose 1F-1D-1G who are under contract, so if you don’t have anybody who fits that profile, you either need to get one or have to expose an exempt or otherwise protected.

          I’m expecting to see some N. Americans playing in Europe to be signed for the league minimum after the trade deadline of cap space is available, after the regular season if not. I have to re-read if a valid loophole.

          1. So in theory, someone who played 60 games last season could be signed after the trade deadline(which is after the start of Euro playoffs) and play enough games to qualify. Someone who played 70 last year and is Europe could do it after the Euro playoffs are over and get signed for another year and get bought out.

          2. Exactly right…should the rangers move say rick nash..they would be able to protect grabner in the expansion draft.

  5. Brooks just reported that Staal is dealing with post-concussion symptoms. Therefore, his timetable for coming back is unknown.

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