Rangers defenceman Brendan Smith clears waivers, sent to AHL

New York Rangers' Brendan Smith (42) checks Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak (88), of the Czech Republic, during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers sent Brendan Smith to Hartford of the American Hockey League after the defenceman cleared waivers on Friday.

The move came one day after Smith — re-signed to a four-year, $17 million deal last June — was waived on his 29th birthday.

New York coach Alain Vigneault said captain Ryan McDonagh was out Friday night against Calgary due to an upper-body injury and could miss the team’s upcoming trip to Winnipeg and Minnesota. The Rangers will return to New York to visit the crosstown-rival Islanders next Thursday.

The Rangers called up John Gilmour from the AHL club and put him in the lineup against the Flames for his NHL debut. The 24-year-old defenceman had six goals and 20 assists in 44 games for the Wolf Pack this season.

Neal Pionk, called up from Hartford on Thursday, was also set to make his NHL debut, marking the first the the Rangers had two defencemen playing their initial games since Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy on Oct. 2, 2009, at Pittsburgh.

Defencemen Marc Staal (neck) and Kevin Shattenkirk (knee surgery) are also out, along with forwards Chris Kreider (blood clot), Pavel Buchnevich (concussion) and Jimmy Vesey (concussion).

New York has lost 11 of its last 15 games and began the day in last place in the tight Metropolitan Division, three points behind Columbus and the Islanders for the last wild card in the Eastern Conference.

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