Rangers’ Ben Harpur not sulking despite lost role in lineup

Ben Harpur is no stranger to his current situation. 

After a stressful offseason of not knowing where he was going to play, Harpur turned an AHL professional tryout with the Wolf Pack into a two-year extension with the Rangers. He skated in 21 straight games on the third defensive pair with Braden Schneider, providing the size and strength that head coach Gerard Gallant prefers in his blueliners. 

But when president and general manager Chris Drury traded for Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola, Harpur found himself on the outside looking in at the Rangers lineup. 

“It’s part of the business and it’s the reality of being on a strong team that wants to make a playoff push,” Harpur told The Post after the Rangers’ morning skate Monday ahead of a 4-1 loss to the Jets at the Garden. “You look at every other year, same thing happens. They bring in depth. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me and it probably won’t be the last. I guess I’m kind of used to it in a sense, but I take it as a positive thing. 

Ben Harpur
Ben Harpur isn’t sulking despite his lost playing time.

Ben Harpur
Ben Harpur had skated in 21 straight games before the Rangers’ trade changed his role.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

“The team’s doing really well. We’re in a good spot right now and we’re making moves at the deadline to bolster our team instead of sell. I’ve been on the other side of that. The two years I was in Ottawa, at the end of my time there, we came in second to last and dead last. I would much rather be in this situation where the team is doing well. I understand what the team needs from me right now. 

“I know that things can happen quick, too. Also during my time in Ottawa, when we went to the Eastern Conference finals, I was in the American League the whole year and ended up playing in the playoffs. I played in New York that series. So things can happen quick, injuries happen. Unfortunately, that’s part of the business and it’s my job to just take it in stride and be ready when the next opportunity comes.” 

The day-to-day has now changed a bit for Harpur, who collected one goal and three assists in his 21-game stretch. He spends extra time on the ice during practice days and game days to get more work in since he’s not seeing game action. The 28-year-old said he tries to make the most out of every day so that he’s ready to step in if there’s an injury. 

“He understands that’s part of the game,” Gallant said. “When your team gets better, things happen. Ben has come a long way this year. He came from being in Hartford, not getting much respect around, and then coming up here and playing [21] games in a row and he played solid hockey. He understands it. He’s been a veteran and he’s been a good soldier.” 

Igor Shesterkin earned the starting nod Monday, his 41st start of the season. The netminder had 17 saves on 21 attempts. 

The Rangers’ 51 shots on goal marked a new season high, surpassing the 46 the team put up against the Avalanche on Oct. 25 and the Lightning on Dec. 29. It was also the most the Rangers have posted since Jan. 27, 2010, when they recorded 52 shots against the Islanders. 

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