Vinny Prospal won’t be dressing for the Rangers anytime soon. The alternate captain, and second leading scorer from last season, was a late scratch in last night’s game against Ottawa, and hasn’t played in a single preseason game this year. That trend will continue into the regular season, as Prospal has been advised to rest the knee for two weeks before skating again. It is extremely likely that Prospal will be out longer than those two weeks, as he will have to get back into game shape before dressing during the regular season. With Prospal out, the Rangers are now without two of their top three centers and on ice leaders to start the season.
But with bad news, there is a silver lining. With both Prospal and Drury starting the season on injured reserve, the Rangers will be able to keep all but one forward from camp until the two centers return. This means that when the Rangers make their final cuts on Sunday, it is extremely likely that Derek Stepan will remain in Ranger blue for the time being. Essentially, the rookie center has been given an extended tryout while Drury and Prospal remain on IR.
With the Rangers likely to carry 14 forwards to start the season, the most likely cut will be Todd White, due to salary, age, and relatively average performance during the regular season. This of course means that Ruslan Fedotenko will likely be offered a short term deal, after a very impressive preseason. These two injuries also bode well for Brian Boyle and Tim Kennedy, who have also had good preseasons. Natually, when Drury and Prospal return, there will be two more cuts made. Whether Stepan falls victim to the numbers game, we don’t know. However, he has definitely made the decision a difficult one for the coaching staff.