Dale Weise has been the subject of many heated debates in Rangerland. Some, like myself, believe that he is a fourth line guy that, since he has never made the team out of camp, has not earned a spot on the roster. Others believe that he has never been given the opportunity to make the roster out of camp. There are others that believe he can be a decent second line player (that group is a group I like to call insane). The one thing we can agree on is that Weise is playing for his Rangers future this preseason.
The 2008 fourth round pick (#111 overall) has spent three seasons with the Rangers organization, but played just ten games at the NHL level. He has not scored an NHL point, but he did showcase toughness and a willingness to do the dirty work. But the thing is, the Rangers have a lot of players in the organization that fit that mold, and most of those guys simply have more offensive skill than Weise. Guys like Ryan Bourque, Carl Hagelin, and Mats Zuccarello, if they wind up making the Rangers, will wind up as third line players. It’s not a slight against, them, but will they unseat anyone on the top-six? I doubt it.
Since Weise has less offensive skill than those guys, he fits on the fourth line. Again, this is not a slight against him, I’m just reading between the lines of where he fits. Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle seem to be slated for fourth line duties this season, with Mike Rupp filling in the last spot on that line (side note: PBR line…awesome). With players like Erik Christensen and Sean Avery in camp, one of who (Avery) cannot be waived, Weise’s only real chance to make the roster is to unseat Christensen as the “13th forward”.
To do so, he is going to have to outplay not only Christensen, but Zuccarello, Hagelin, and Bourque. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid who may not have the offensive tools to out duel all four of them in camp. If Weise is going to make the roster this year, he is going to need to do what he does best (grind it out), but add to his game and chip in offensively.
Even moving ahead to next year, things look bleak for Weise and the Rangers. Sure, Avery, Christensen, and Ruslan Fedotenko will all be off the books. But then you have to look at Hagelin and Bourque again, who will have a year in the AHL under their belts. If Zuccarello is back, then he’s another candidate. Let’s also not forget about Christian Thomas, who is going to be fighting for a spot on this year’s and next year’s club.
There just simply isn’t room for Weise unless he makes room for himself. Much like Dane Byers, his window with the Rangers is closing fast.