The Rangers won’t play a home game this year until October 27. In fact, they won’t play a game in the Western Hemisphere for a period of two weeks, which includes four preseason games and two regular season games. Those last four preseason games, in a normal schedule, are games where the Rangers really evaluate their borderline players and their top contenders for roster spots. However, with four games in six nights to end the preseason, there could be a chance the Rangers carry some extra players a little bit longer than usual.
Generally, on a non-Euro preseason, the Rangers make a few cuts after some preseason games and slowly trim the roster down. Last year, the kinds who were going to be returned to their CHL rosters were sent back almost immediately. Those types of moves will still happen. But, the second round of cuts, the cuts where players competing for roster spots are cut, may be smaller than usual.
Last season, the Rangers made 11 cuts from their preseason roster on September 27, leaving them with three spare defensemen and three spare forwards. This year, they will be on a flight to the Czech Republic on September 27. While I don’t expect the overall roster tinkering to be effected that much, it might be prudent for the Rangers to carry one or two extra players while heading to Europe.
The logic here is simple: Hartford is not a bus ride away if injuries occur. The Rangers had that luxury last preseason, but simply don’t have it this year. So while players that are not expected to be on the roster will be cut, those who are having better than expected preseasons –or those who the Rangers want a longer look at– will likely be sticking around a little while longer.
The candidates for a later-than-expected cut (assuming they get cut) are the ones you’d expect: Pavel Valentenko, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, and possibly Christian Thomas. That would give the Rangers a spare youngster on the blue line to compete with Michael Del Zotto and Tim Erixon, and a few extra forwards to compete with Erik Christensen and Sean Avery for those final roster spots. The way the roster is handled this year will be a precursor for following years, as the Rangers will have this kind of schedule until the renovations are complete.