The Rangers have cut the roster from 54 on the first day of training camp to 23, and most of those cuts were easy decisions to make. With one game left in the preseason, and a deadline of October 1 to be under the cap, the Rangers face a very interesting problem when it comes to Enver Lisin.
Lisin, acquired from Phoenix in exchange for Lauri Korpikoski, has had a very good preseason. He is tied for the team lead in goals, netting three goals in the six games so far, which puts him fourth in points. He is also third on the team in SOG, with 13. He sits at a -1, which isn’t good, but it’s not the end of the world either. We have seen the kid fly down the ice, his skating ability is unquestioned, and he has simply played his way on to the roster this preseason. The problem, is that so did Artem Anisimov (although it was his job to lose), and that creates a very full top three lines.
There are two solutions to this, and neither one is all that appealing. The first one, is keeping Lisin with the team, and stick him on the fourth line with Boyle and one of Brashear/Voros. In a John Tortorella system, the fourth line gets two shifts a period, if that. Do you think Lisin will benefit from playing five minutes a game? Will Lisin see powerplay time if he is on the fourth line? Will his play suffer because he is playing with offensively challenged linemates? These are questions that Torts needs to consider when making this decision. The upside to this solution, is that in case of an injury, the Rangers have a substitute in place without having to go to Hartford and play the waiver game.
The other solution is less appealing, as it would involve sending Lisin down to Hartford, where he would get regular playing time, probably with Evgeny Grachev and P.A. Parenteau, on the first line. There are a few problems with this scenario. First, he would have to clear waivers, and he is likely not to. Second, to be called up, he would have to pass through re-entry waivers, which again, he is likely not. Third, and probably the most serious, is that if he gets sent to Hartford, will he bolt for Russia? Do you expect the KHL to recognize his contract with the Rangers?
In my humble opinion, which means a lot as a blogger living in my mother’s basement, is that the Rangers simply need to keep him around and play him on the fourth line and the powerplay. This will get him roughly 10 minutes a game, which can be enough to keep him happy for now. He is also in the lineup in case of a mid-game injury, game misconduct, or if Sean Avery’s antics get the better of him. This is, in all likelihood, their best bet, and what Tortorella is planning on doing with the young winger.
This is a good problem to have, as you can never have too much depth on a roster. One thing is for certain though, Enver Lisin has played his way on to this team, and deserves a fair shot to get regular playing time.