NEW YORK - Rangers rookie defenceman Matt Gilroy is heading to the minor leagues for the first time.
Gilroy, last season's Hobey Baker winner as the U.S. college player of the year, was the surprising choice to be sent to Hartford of the AHL on Thursday. He is second among NHL rookie defencemen with four goals and is tied for seventh with six points in 30 games.
He has gone four games without a point and was on the ice for both Blackhawks goals in New York's 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago on Wednesday night. The Rangers decided to keep Finnish rookie Ilkka Heikkinen on the roster instead.
The 25-year-old Gilroy, who starred at Boston University, signed a two-year, US$3.5 million deal with the Rangers in the spring. His demotion gives New York space under the salary cap.
The Rangers also recalled goalie Matt Zaba from Hartford to back up Henrik Lundqvist, and sent down goalie Chad Johnson. Johnson didn't play after being recalled earlier this month.