Rangers running out of options for Libor Hajek
As the roster picture clears up, the Rangers are left with very few decisions. In fact, the only real decision left is who wins the 7D spot. Given the two year contract given to Jarred Tinordi, it would appear he has the inside track. Unfortunately for Libor Hajek, the Rangers are running low on options.
Keep 8 Defensemen
The only realistic way the Rangers can keep Hajek and Tinordi on the NHL roster is to carry 8 defensemen. Assuming a fully healthy roster, that would mean exposing a forward to waivers. That would be either Ryan Reaves (not happening), Julien Gauthier (will lose on waivers), or Dryden Hunt (may lose on waivers). This isn’t really the best option, as the Rangers would lose a valuable depth forward for nothing in order to keep Hajek.
Of course this changes if Reaves goes to IR, as it would open up a roster spot in the short term. That would allow the Rangers to kick the can down the road when more injuries would happen. This is the most likely path, if Reaves is out for an extended period of time.
For some reason, waiving him seems like an option the Rangers don’t want to pursue. Perhaps it’s just the fan in me, but I can’t imagine him getting claimed. That said, it wouldn’t shock me if he does get claimed. After all, Mason Geersten got claimed, and he’s not really an NHL player.
Hajek getting claimed wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it wouldn’t be the best asset management. Assuming there is a trade market, that would be the best bet if he’s going to get cut.
Unlikely at best, but could be an intriguing option, would be trading Hajek. There wouldn’t be much of a return, probably less than what Brett Howden got. But it’s still an option, and getting something, even an extra dart throw, would be better than nothing.
In the end, there aren’t many attractive options for the Rangers with Libor Hajek. He, like Howden, really needed time in the AHL that he never got. Perhaps a change of scenery is all he needs.