Julien Gauthier made the most of Rangers AHL assignment
Julien Gauthier said he knew he had two options when he was assigned to AHL Hartford after training camp in early October.
He could either pout and work hard, the 25-year-old winger said, or work hard and try to earn the right to be Rangers’ first recall.
« I’m not much of a quitter, » Gauthier said after assisting on Zac Jones’ game-winning goal and scoring one of his own in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Stars on Saturday afternoon. « I know I can play in the NHL, so I got used to getting more reps, getting more ice time and working on my game. I didn’t really pout or whatever. I wanted to come back here as soon as possible.
It looks like Rangers’ depth pool will be more of a factor this season, given the multitude of injuries the club have already suffered in the first 10 games. That was not the case last season, when Rangers largely got away with hardly any Wolf Pack recalls due to good fortune on the injury front.
Moreover, Rangers have already made it clear that they prefer to carry 22 players instead of 23 for cap space reasons ahead of the trade deadline. So, when fully healthy, the team can be expected to send a player down when possible.
At the moment, however, Filip Chytil (upper body) and Vitali Kravtsov (upper body) are unavailable. Since losing Dryden Hunt to the Avalanche, who picked up the winger on the waiver wire, the Rangers have turned to Gauthier. Aside from goaltender Louis Domingue and his 142 NHL games, Gauthier has the second most NHL experience with the Wolf Pack with 99 games under his belt. Jonny Brodzinski is next with 84.
“There’s no doubt he was disappointed when he crashed and wanted to get back here as soon as possible,” head coach Gérard Gallant said of Gauthier. “He went there, didn’t say much, he worked hard and now he got his chance. Hopefully he will continue to play the same way because he has played very well in the last two games he has played and he is very happy to see him put the puck in the net. It’s good for his confidence.
Gauthier, who has all the tools to be a full-time NHL player but is still working to put it all together, has been solid for the Rangers in his first three games of the season. While the goal and assist in Dallas are his only points, Gauthier was effective on the forecheck and brought a physical element to the third line.
« It’s really good, » Gauthier said of his contribution for Rangers. “You know, I started in the AHL, I got called up and it’s nice to produce and feel like part of the team and everything. Get back in line and everything.