Andrew Gross is reporting in his Rangers Rants blog that Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy is being sent by the Rangers to Hartford effective immediately. Illka Heikkinen will remain and play with the Rangers.

Gilroy, 25 will help the Wolf Pack immediately. He’s a solid defender with excellent offensive instincts. He’s going to be in Hartford to work on both of these areas which means he’ll get lots of ice time and work will J.J. Daigneault. The Pack have been easier to play against than a lot of their competition. This will only improve that aspect of their game.

Here’s a video of a tremendous goal he scored earlier this year against the Devils…

The Rangers have also recalled Matt Zaba to sit on the bench while Chad Johnson comes back to Hartford to get in a couple of games befroe his next recall. It’s critical to Johnson’s development that he continues to get games in. Frankly the way the Pack goaltending has been the past couple of games, it’s critical to the Wolf Pack as well.

Here’s the official release:

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that defenseman Matt Gilroy has been assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).  In addition, goaltender Matt Zaba has been recalled from Hartford, while goaltender Chad Johnson has been assigned to Hartford.

Gilroy, 25, has skated in 30 games with the Rangers this season, registering four goals and six points, along with 19 penalty minutes.  He currently ranks second in the NHL among rookie defensemen in goals and is tied for seventh in points.  He made his NHL debut on October 2 at Pittsburgh, and tallied his first career point with the game-winning goal on October 5 at New Jersey.

The North Bellmore, New York native was originally signed by the Rangers as a free agent on April 17, 2009.

Zaba, 26, has appeared in eight games with Hartford this season, posting a 1-2-1 record with a 4.16 goals against average and .867 save percentage.  Last season, he ranked seventh in the AHL in goals against average (2.33), tied for eighth in save percentage (.920) and 12th in wins (25).  He also led the league in shootout save percentage with a .930% success rate.  Zaba was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for February, and he finished the regular season with a 14-2-0 mark and a 1.84 goals against average, a .937 save percentage and one shutout in his final 16 contests.  He made his AHL debut on October 18, 2008, at Toronto.

Prior to joining Hartford, Zaba appeared in 28 games with the Charlotte Checkers and Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL in 2007-08, posting a 15-8-2 record with a 2.64 goals against average, .915 save percentage and three shutouts.  He tied for third in the league in shutouts and 11th in goals against average and save percentage.  Before turning professional, Zaba backstopped Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) for four seasons, registering a 55-42-10 record in four seasons.  He was selected to the WCHA All-Academic Team for three consecutive seasons, and was the first goaltender in school history to be named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2003-04.

The Yorkton, Saskatchewan native was originally the Los Angeles Kings eighth round selection, 231st overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.  He was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on August 20, 2007.

Johnson, 23, dressed as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in three games following his recall on December 3.  He returns to Hartford where he has registered a 10-6-1 record with a 2.10 goals against average, .926 save percentage and three shutouts in 18 games this season.  Johnson was tied for second in the AHL in shutouts, fifth in wins, eighth in save percentage, and ninth in goals against average at the time of his recall.  The AHL rookie made his debut with Hartford on October 9 at Providence, and recorded his first AHL win the following game on October 10 against Springfield.

The Calgary, Alberta native was originally the Pittsburgh Penguins’ fifth round selection, 125th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.  He was acquired by the Rangers on June 27, 2009, in exchange for a fifth round selection (Andy Bathgate) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

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