After 25 games of toggling between Libor Hajek and Zac Jones as their sixth defenseman, the Rangers on Saturday sent Jones to AHL Hartford and called up defenseman Ben Harpur and forward Jonny Brodzinski before their game against Chicago at Madison Square Garden.
The move to send Jones down doesn’t mean the Rangers have chosen Hajek as the winner of the battle for the sixth defense spot, coach Gerard Gallant said.
“That’s not why we sent Zac down,’’ he said. “ . . . Management made a decision, the coaches made a decision that the best thing for [Jones] is to go down there and play a few games. So it’ll be reevaluated in a few days.’’
Jones has played in 16 games with the Rangers and has one goal, one assist, four penalty minutes and a plus/minus of minus-2.
Hajek had played in 10 games before Saturday, with one goal and no assists. He had two penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of even. He played in Friday’s overtime loss to Ottawa and had two noticeable defensive plays.
Harpur, 27, is a 6-6, 231-pounder from Hamilton, Ontario. He had three goals, two assists and 24 penalty minutes in 17 games for Hartford and figures to be the seventh defenseman.
Gallant said Brodzinski, 29, was recalled because Filip Chytil was banged up and was a game-time decision to play or not. Chytil, who was seen grimacing on the bench at one point in Friday’s game against Ottawa, was scratched with a lower-body injury. Ryan Carpenter replaced him in the lineup and Brodzinski and Harpur were healthy scratches . . . Rangers backup goalie Jaroslav Halak started against Chicago.