GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Six days before the Rangers open training camp, general manager Chris Drury said Thursday that he hopes second-year defenseman Nils Lundkvist will report, but he doesn’t know if he will.
“I don't have a definitive answer as to what his plans are right now,’’ Drury said during an informal chat with beat reporters at the Rangers’ practice facility on the second day of rookie camp. “But all the players that we have under contract, we hope they come to camp. And we certainly hope he's here next week.’’
But he will not report, according to his agent, Claude Lemieux.
Lemieux said in a text message to Newsday on Thursday that Lundkvist remains in Sweden, waiting for the Rangers to trade him. Lemieux said Lundkvist requested the trade in January after the team sent him down to AHL Hartford.
The New York Post first reported Lundkvist had requested a trade and did not plan on reporting to camp. Drury on Thursday declined to confirm Lundkvist’s trade request and would not say if he was attempting to trade him.
Lundkvist, 22, was the third of three first-round draft picks by the Rangers in 2018 (Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller were the others). He signed a three-year, entry level contract with the team last summer after scoring 14 goals with 18 assists in 52 games for Lulea, his Swedish Hockey League team. That was enough to earn him the Salming Trophy, awarded to the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL.
The 5-11, 187-pound, righthander started last season as the right defenseman on the Rangers’ third defense pair, but after 25 games in which he had one goal and three assists, Lundkvist was demoted to Hartford and replaced by 2020 first-round pick Braden Schneider.
Schneider scored his first NHL goal in his debut in San Jose against the Sharks, and played well enough to take ownership of the third-pair, right defense spot. He scored two goals with nine assists in 43 games and added three assists while playing in all 20 of the Rangers’ playoff games.
With Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba and Schneider ahead of him on the right defense depth chart, there didn't seem to be a spot for Lundkvist on the Rangers this season, unless he could switch to the left side, and compete for the spot opened up when Drury traded Patrik Nemeth to Arizona over the summer.
Notes & quotes: The Rangers' rookies play the Flyers' rookies in two scrimmages Friday and Saturday in Allentown, Pa. Rangers forward Matt Rempe, 20, thinks he might be a marked man in the scrimmages after he landed a big hit in the first minute of the first scrimmage between the teams last year and then fought Flyers forward Wade Allison. “I don't know how many guys are there from last year, but I bet they'll remember me,’’ the 6-8, 240-pound Rempe said. “I'm just going to go do the same thing I did (last year), play hard and physical and try to score some goals.’’