2021 NY Rangers Player Report Card: Libor Hajek

If at the start of last season, you told me that Libor Hajek, the Rangers 9th defenseman on the depth chart, was going to play 44 of 56 games this season, I would have laughed in your face. Or laughed in my own, as something would have gone horribly wrong for this to happen. That’s not an insult to Hajek, it’s a simple statement that the 9th defensemen doesn’t play the overwhelming majority of the games. Yet here we are.

Hajek got into 44 games because the Rangers only played their top-six defensemen for six games, give or take. Then the Tony DeAngelo thing happened. Then injuries started piling up. There were more than a few games where the 7-8-9 defensemen were getting regular minutes. That’s just bad luck. None of that is Hajek’s fault, of course. There were no expectations to Hajek’s game at all when he came into the lineup. Just hope. In the end, there is no more hope.

He’s bad

Hajek should have spent multiple seasons in the AHL. Instead, he was rushed so the Rangers could show value from the Ryan McDoangh trade. Three years later, Hajek is still one of the worst defensemen in the league. He often looks lost, out of position, and lacking skill with the puck. The MSG propaganda machine can say what it wants, but there’s very little positive to Hajek’s game.

I don’t want this to turn into a Hajek bashing. He filled in to the best of his ability. He wasn’t supposed to play 44 games this season. He wasn’t even supposed to be protected in the expansion draft. Now it looks like both of these will play out.

There’s not much else to evaluate on Hajek’s game this season.

Final Grade

Hajek will likely be back with the Rangers next season, if only because he will be protected in the expansion draft. He will again be the 9th (or later) defensemen on the depth chart. The difference is that this time he will be in the AHL. Hopefully they can salvage whatever is left of his career.

Grading Hajek is harder than just going “He’s bad, F.” He was put into a role well beyond his capabilities. He didn’t perform well, but he filled in minutes in what was always a developmental season for the Rangers.

Libor Hajek 2021 Report Card Grade: D

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  • The Rangers need another capable LD. Lindgren is good, Miller is learning but the 3rd spot is up for grabs.

  • Lol MSG and the Rangers did this guy wrong, along with Chytil and Andersson… They gave them wayyyyy to much camera shine before they ever laced up in a NYR uniform. It gave them fat heads and unrealistic expectations.

    If I’m Hajek, I am telling my manager to send me wherever Chytil will be sent off to.. Arizona Yotes could be a fit for those two.

    • “The MSG propaganda machine can say what it wants, but there’s very little positive to Hajek’s game.”

      ^ That for sure didn’t help Lias Andersson mindset lol…

      • Lol you haven’t grown up for the last 4-5 years Peter… Same place emotionally and most likely, physically.

        • But the question is, Mint/Avery/Pablo etc, does it ever bother you that you spout off all this stuff and it ends up as cheap speculative nonsense?

  • Worst trade in Gorton’s tenure , basically gave Tampa a Cup. Hajek = BUST!! Everyone keeps talking about the future D-CORP we have in tow and coming up. All my eyes are seeing, watching the playoffs, are the three D-MEN studs we traded away for NOTHING in return! Brady Skjei, Ryan Graves, and of course Ryan McDonagh.

    • Brother, Brady brought back a 1 that was traded for Schneider win for us IMO. Last 2 you r 100% right! Rangers have no one who knows anything about D men and it’s historical…….Nordstrom,Tinordi, Zubov, Graves/…….Park for Vandals? Who is the next McDonagh?

    • So if you had Skjei and McDonagh, you don’t have Panarin, no way to fit all of them under the cap. Skjei was a bad signing, needed to be rid of that contract.

  • He often times looked overwhelmed by the circumstances … and yet he somehow managed to get by most of the time, by the skin of his teeth. Despite all the handwringing over his play he managed to be a +2 — yes, a very flawed statistical measure, but NOT totally meaningless. As a 9th D’man he did well enough so it’s hard for me to complain about him. Measured against other 9D I would suggest he’s a at least a B+, as a d’man in general a definite and resounding D- or F+, take your pick.

  • Libor did as best he could. Yeah he was pretty bad but funny thing is that he wasn’t a total disaster. He wasn’t JJ bad. Based upon his effort and his limited hockey I.Q., I’d give the guy a C for somehow surviving. On the other hand, he shouldn’t see the ice in the NHL with the Rangers unless they have no other bodies to bring up.

  • Rangers should sign 6’7 240 LWLD Sam Morin .25year old UFA.. would solve the enforcer role for the Rangers

  • 12 Forwards and 6 Defensemen and 2 goalies. Then there is 2 more roster spots available. This is typically the make up of every team during the regular season. Now by dividing that up equally in the cap, as a true Marxist, this leaves exactly $3,704,545 per player. Only reason I did this is to show the value of contracts to individual players.

    If you are going to pay a individual player $11.6 million, he better produce 3 times more than the average NHL player for it to be considered a positive/valuable contract.

    Last season there was 481 total players that played 40 games or more. There should be 62 goalies added in also. Figuring 2 per team. A total of 543 players in the NHL. Roughly 18 roster spots that are solid producers throughout a typical season.

    So 60% of your salary cap should go to your forward group. This is a more accurate depiction of playoff bound teams typically. The extremes in this category are Tampa at 72.5% and the low is 31.1% with the Devils.

    On defense that 30% of total salary cap seems to vary wildly among the playoff teams/better teams. The extremes are the Wild at 42.2% and on the low end it is the 16.7% with Sabres. But 3 of the teams that made it to the second round this year are only spending 25% roughly on D.

    9.2% is the average cap hit per franchise on goalies. The extremes are the Canadiens at 21.1% and the Capitals at 1.7%.

    So the Top 30% of forwards in the league that played a min. of 40 games this past season averaged 46 points total. Any forward putting up 20 points (+/- 5) this past season is worth the league average of 3.7 million which is 4.5% of your total cap hit. You figure your top 30% should be making at least double that number considering they are doubling that production.

    How does this all relate to the Rangers? Well that is simple. Anyone who didn’t produce at least 46 points and is getting paid at or over 7.4 million didn’t live up to their salary. The only contract that we had that kind of falls short of this mark is Kreider. He only put up 30 points this past season. But everyone else was at or exceeded the point production required to meet their salary. Buch doubled his requirement. So this season was a huge steal. Strome put up 49 points for 4.5 million. Again another absolute steal. Mika put up 50 in a off year for 5.3 million.

    We had 4 players in our forward group who were at or above the top 30% in point production. And out of those 4 we had 3 of them being underpaid. Chytil, Kappo, Lafreniere, and Blackwell all produced enough points to require a 3.7 million contract. And all of them were roughly making 1 million. These are all wins. That is a cap saving of 10.8 million.

    As a roster we have about 12.4% of cap space to spend on our forward group. 8.4% to spend on defenders. 4.9% to spend on our goalies. So about 25.7% of our cap is free. If your typical player should make 4.5% of your cap…this gives you about 5.5 players worth of cap space. Which is about the amount of players we need to sign for next season.

    Buchnevich’s contract and what we do with Brendan Smith’s contract or cap hit are really what are going to matter this off season. If Buch signs for anything under 7.4 million it is a win based on his production this past season. If he signs for anything under 6 million that would be excellent.

    A Eichel level contract certainly seems more and more likely the more you dive into our cap. I have stated Eichel is a possibility if the asking price is right because if his injury is career ending…you can lose his salary in LTIR. The injury part doesn’t affect our cap long term. It is the assets we would have to give up to make it happen, that I am willing to part with for him. Where Landeskog, while highly unlikely to move on from the Avs, but is a much better free agent proposition. They don’t have the cap space to pay him a significant increase. They have too many players this off season coming into UFA status to keep all of them. They are going to have 19 million to sign 7 ufa players.

  • Change of topic. Now that Team Canada has captured the gold medal at the World Men’s championships, will the Rangers be announcing Gerard Gallant as their new bench boss.

  • On the grading scale of A-F, Hajek gets a grade of D-. Panicky, yet a good skater with some strength. Seems to have no vision for breakout passes from the d zone at all. Only occasionally involved physically. He won’t be missed if taken by Seattle, but I can’t imagine he will be.

  • Gallant now a world championship-winning coach after Canada’s victory yesterday. Imagine that. I think that counts more for his rep than the slanderous comments made about him by former employers.

    • I’m curious, what are these slanderous comments made by former employers? All I’ve ever heard are various rumors based on the simple fact he was successful yet fired fired, twice.

      • Gallant’s rumored to be hot-headed, and too free with his opinion for ownership’s liking. Florida implied that there was an anger management problem upon Gallant’s dismissal.

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