5 biggest questions entering training camp

What’s the status of Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin?

Both players underwent surgery on torn shoulder labrums following the 2013 season and their initial recovery timelines indicated they could each miss the first month of the 2013-2014 season.  However, both Callahan and Hagelin have been skating with teammates in the weeks leading up to training camp and have reported no setbacks.  Neither is ready for contact just yet, but they both seem to be progressing quickly.  It’s still a good bet that neither player will be ready for the season-opener, but we should get a clearer picture of their status during camp.

Who could fill in for Callahan and Hagelin?

The Blueshirts have as many as 17 forwards (not including Callahan and Hagelin) with a legitimate shot at making the team.  There are probably eight guys locked into their jobs, but after that it’s anyone’s guess how the top-12 will shake out.  Of the youngsters, Oscar Lindberg and Danny Kristo should be coming into camp full of confidence after dominating at last week’s Traverse City Tournament.  Unfortunately for Lindberg, he’s a pure centerman, and the Rangers already have five NHL bodies competing for four spots at that position.  However, Kristo, Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider all have a chance to make the team.  They’ll be challenged by proven bottom-six forwards: Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, Benoit Pouliot, Derek Dorsett, Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt.

Is Derick Brassard or Brad Richards the #2 center?

If John Tortorella were still around, this really wouldn’t matter, since Tortorella eschewed set line structures and was notorious for juggling his combinations mid-game.  At least in Vancouver Alain Vigneault preferred to have a more rigid formula.  Either Boyle or Dominic Moore will be centering the team’s checking line, but Brassard and Richards could be in a heated battle for better linemates, and a more offensive role.  Richards is obviously coming off a disastrous season, but he’ll surely be driven to make a strong first impression to the new regime.  Brassard impressed in his brief stint on Broadway last year, but will have to do so again to stave off the veteran Richards.

How will Vigneault’s camp be different than Tortorella’s?

It will come as a relief to many Blueshirts that Tortorella’s grueling conditioning test is now a thing of the past.  Vigneault’s camp figures to be quite a bit different – there might even be pucks on the ice!  But most importantly, Vigneault has repeatedly stated that all players will start with a clean slate under his watch, so Vigneault’s camp will be more about the new coach determining how to best utilize his personnel.

What’s happening with the big contract negotiations?

We haven’t heard a peep from Derek Stepan’s camp for weeks, while GM Glen Sather has made it very clear that he doesn’t intend to budge from his stance that Stepan should sign a bridge deal.  It’d be a major, major shock if Stepan wasn’t on the ice come opening night, but this standoff could drag into camp and become an unfortunate distraction.  Things sound a little more positive between Henrik Lundqvist and the club.  Both sides appear eager to get a deal done and though the haggling may continue a little longer, it seems likely that The King will ink a massive extension before the season starts.

What will you guys be watching as camp opens?

11 Responses to “5 biggest questions entering training camp”

  1. Walt says:

    I will be watching how BR will play. Given what Lindberg did at Traverse City, BR will be on the bubble that can only cause doom if he doesn’t play well! Also, I believe that Brass will be the 2nd line center.

    Assuming that Step will be signed soon, and that Callie, and Hags won’t play a few games, we will see lines something like this:

    Step-Nash-Kreider
    Brass-Kristo-Miller
    BR-Boyle-Pouliot
    Moore-Dorsett-Pyatt

    These lines will change later on when the 2 guys return.

    • Dave says:

      Dorsett isn’t a center. I think you’re looking at swapping Pyatt/Boyle as well. Boyle will be the 4C in a shutdown role, much like Malholtra for AV’s Canucks.

    • Centerman21 says:

      You have Nash-Kristo-Dorsett as Centerman. You need to have the lines in order if you’re going to make predictions. Most coaches like to play guys in their natural position if possible. You have 2 LW on the top line tho Nash may have to play RW. The 2nd line could go like that but Miller-Brassard-Kristo would have to be the way it’s set up. Richards is a Center and Pouliot is a LW so Boyle would have to play LW. On 4th line Moore is Center and you think Pyatt is LW? It could happen but I think he’s odd man out. Boyle is 4th line LW and Zuc is on 3rd line. Also BR isn’t a checking line forward. Nor is he good defensively. Since AV uses his 3rd and 4th lines for defensive zone starts. I doubt BR plays 3rd line but we shall see.

  2. WilliamW says:

    Agree with all 5 of your points.

    Would guess that Brassard is the #2 guy but all the centers could rotate depending on how they are playing. In some respects it makes sense for Stepan to fill the Kesler role and take a bunch of the tough minutes

    Miller and Kristo seem to have an initita angle on the Hagelin / Callahan spots but will likely hinge on their ability to play on the defensive side of things. If they aren’t yet up to par, I think Asham comes in and Pyatt is moved up

    I’ll also be watching the D pairings including how Staal is doing and who is paired with him on the 2nd group, DZ or Stralman

  3. Dave says:

    I still see BR as the 2C. Last year was an aberration (I hope).

    • WilliamW says:

      I’d be thrilled if he is the 1C we counted on after signing up

      But I wouldn’t count on him beating out Brassard or Stepan after last year so in my book he’s 3C until he earns something else or Miller/Lindberg take it away

  4. paulronty says:

    I think Zuccie will be on one of the top two lines so I wouldn’t be too quick to pencil Miller or Kristo in there. He seemed to play well with Brassard.

  5. Mark says:

    Oh.. this team has little forward grit and that worries me greatly. The fourth line as posited by Walt earlier may be accurate but is Boring.

  6. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Get Stepan signed. It’s THE biggest question entering camp.

  7. scott rankin says:

    Biggest problem – signing Derek Stephan