The New York Rangers have just lost Libor Hajek for a few weeks and have room for an extra defenseman and Joey Keane is the right man to call-up.
Libor Hajek left the game after the first period with a sprained knee and did not return. He has just been ruled out for three-to-four weeks.
Hajek has played to mixed reviews this season and just may be the team’s worst defenseman at the moment. He is poor in the Rangers’ own zone and does not provide offensive upside similar to, say, Tony DeAngelo.
Marc Staal, who has missed the last 13 games after undergoing ankle surgery, will be back just in time to take Hajek’s spot in the lineup. However, this does leave room for an extra defenseman, and this is where Joey Keane comes in.
Keane, who was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, is currently playing in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack and is one of the most exciting players on the team.
The 20-year-old has 14 points (six goals and eight assists) in 21 games and is really starting to look like a draft steal.
His defense is questionable, but he has done enough to warrant a call-up. Keane is a right-handed defenseman, so he would not be taking the spot of either Hajek or Staal, but he can be the Rangers’ extra man, especially until Hajek returns. (Many believe had Keane played hockey with a lefty stick, it would be him in New York over Hajek.)
Instead of rotating Brendan Smith between offense and defense, which is what the Rangers are most likely going to end up doing, they should call up the youngster and see what he can do on Broadway.
The Rangers are now all about developing their young players and they need to get to know Keane’s game better, especially at this level. They have an influx of defensive prospects with very high ceilings coming in and they need to know if Keane has what it takes and where he will fit into all this.
The Rangers really should keep Smith on the fourth line and call up Keane, for everyone’s benefit.