Rangers rely on Jonny Brodzinski to fill in the penalty spot

Rangers have been diving into their deep pool for quite some time, but the recent loss of Kevin Rooney and now Greg McKegg takes the organization even deeper.

Head coach Gerard Gallant said McKegg will not play on the Rangers’ four-city road trip, which began Sunday in Winnipeg, for personal reasons. Without Rooney, who was placed on injured reserve last week after an undisclosed upper-body injury, or McKegg, Rangers have turned to Morgan Barron and Jonny Brodzinski.

Barron, the Rangers’ sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft, has played 18 games with the Blueshirts over the past two seasons and is the better-known face of the pair. After McKegg missed Friday’s win against the Devils, Brodzinski made his sixth move to the Rangers lineup this season and only the 11th since signing with the franchise as a free agent in October 2020.

Rangers will need both players to fill the bottom six, but Brodzinski will also take McKegg’s penalty responsibility.

Jonny Brodzinski takes charge of the penalty shootout.
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“He played well when he came to us earlier on the trip to California,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of Brodzinski before the Rangers faced the Jets at the Canada Life Center on Sunday night. “He’s working hard, he’s gained some experience. He’s doing a good job. This is part of our NHL today. At the moment we have a lot of guys out so the guys get a chance. The last time he showed up he played well.”

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“Obviously we remain in close contact with our coaching staff down there and with Gord [Murphy] and [Kris Knoblauch] worked together in Hartford last year, so we get a lot of help from them. They talk about it and say what the player is about. So we trust them.”

Brodzinski intervened and continued the game 2:39 on penalties Friday against the Devils, who failed to score in any of their three power plays. Considering he played many shorthanded minutes at the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford, Brodzinski seemed comfortable in the role. He mentioned that both teams have similar penalty systems.

Rangers have other options for more experienced players for PK, but Gallant wants to spread the workload a bit across his lineup.

“It’s not favoured, it doesn’t become too much ice time for different players and wears down your top players,” Gallant said. “It’s a whole game plan, not because it’s better than [Ryan] Strome or better than this guy, it’s about how I handle my bank.”

Brodzinski cited Rangers’ winning culture and the fact that they are a young team as reasons he wanted to re-sign with the organization. Signing a two-year deal also meant he could give his wife and two-year-old daughter some stability, which Brodzinski says meant a lot.

Jonny Brodzinski played 2:39 on penalties against the Devils.
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Brodzinski, who played on the wing and center during his brief tenure with Rangers, said it doesn’t matter where he is in the lineup. He noted that he has played on the right wing for most of his career, but that he can play on either wing and in the middle, having bounced between those positions over the past three years.

“I never quite cracked the NHL roster for a couple of years in LA where I was pacing for a long time,” Brodzinski said. “Mentally, I was in a state where I was right now in the American League and I was a leader. Having some structure for my wife and daughter was a good thing.

“But at the same time, I always want to play in the NHL. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and being an NHL regular is a tough thing, and that’s what I’ve always strived for.” Rangers rely on Jonny Brodzinski to fill in the penalty spot


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