Anthony Bitetto, the Island Park native signed by the Rangers as a free agent in October, will get his shot to play for the team he supported as a boy when he is activated off the practice squad for Monday’s game against the Penguins, coach David Quinn said. He replaces Tony DeAngelo, who was placed on waivers Sunday.
Bitetto, 30, a Rangers fan growing up, played 51 games for the Winnipeg Jets last season, the most games he has played at the NHL level in any of his nine professional seasons. He had no goals and eight assists and was plus-3, with 32 penalty minutes.
A sixth-round draft pick in 2010 by Nashville, he played 183 NHL games in his career — for Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg — before signing a two-year, one-way contract worth $1.475 million with the Rangers.
With DeAngelo out of favor and Jack Johnson still out with a groin strain, the Rangers needed to put either Bitetto or 22-year-old Libor Hajek on the active roster and into the lineup against the Penguins. They chose Bitetto, who likely will partner with Brendan Smith on the third defensive pairing. Quinn said Smith, who was benched the entire third period Saturday, will play Monday.
Goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who reportedly was involved in an altercation with DeAngelo after Saturday’s game, did not practice. The Rangers said it was a "maintenance’’ day . . . Forward Colin Blackwell, who left Saturday’s game in the first period with what was called an upper-body injury, will be out seven to 10 days, the team said. Blackwell, who had emerged as a sparkplug for the Rangers, had seemed to settle in as the right wing on the second line. At practice Sunday, Kaapo Kakko looked to be in that spot, and right wing Julien Gauthier, who has sat out five straight games, seemed to be working on the third line.