The Rangers had to sacrifice their top depth forward in the name of cap space, and now they’ve lost him to the waiver wire.
Dryden Hunt was picked up by the reigning Stanley Cup champion Avalanche on Thursday, before the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks. The Rangers already have had two players sidelined with minor injuries, and Hunt had to fill in for three contests. Hunt even scored the game-tying goal in the third period of the Rangers’ first loss of the season, against the Jets last week.
Colorado, with captain Gabriel Landeskog expected to be sidelined for 12 weeks after undergoing knee surgery, padded out its own depth by picking up Hunt.
“That’s part of the business and the game,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “Obviously, there wasn’t a roster spot at the time and Colorado’s had some injuries and they called him up. Good for Huntsy, he’s going to stay in the NHL and get an opportunity there. We’re going to miss him. I liked him, he did a good job for us over the last year. Good, solid kid.”
Hunt, who signed a two-year deal with the Rangers as a free agent after the Panthers did not qualify him following four seasons, played 76 of 82 games last season. He was scratched, however, in all but three of 20 playoff games.
The wing played in a few different spots last season, including some significant minutes on the second line, with Artemi Panarin and the since-departed Ryan Strome.
With the return of Vitali Kravtsov and the signing of Jimmy Vesey this preseason, Hunt became the 13th forward. But early injuries to Kravtsov and Sammy Blais had prompted the Rangers to keep Hunt around despite the implications on the cap,
Filip Chytil scored his second goal of the season in the second period Thursday night. After winning a race to the puck along the boards, the Czech center attacked the net and went five-hole on Sharks netminder James Reimer to tie the score at one-all.
A pretty passing sequence from the Rangers later in the second ended in a goal on a bullet one-timer from Artemi Panarin, who is now riding the longest season-opening points streak by a Ranger since Brad Richards went five straight games in 2011-12.
With three goals and eight assists, Panarin also matched Rod Gilbert’s franchise record for the highest point total through five games of a season.
Kravtsov and defenseman Libor Hajek were scratched. … Ryan Carpenter returned to the lineup after missing one game due to being cut by a skate, slotting back in the middle of the fourth line with Vesey and Ryan Reaves.