In a series of tweets from Andrew Gross, coach Alain Vigneault started to shed some light on the future lines and defensive pairings heading into the season. The new coach has kept Chris Kreider on a line with Brad Richards and Rick Nash, which will probably be the top line when the season starts. The other set line appears to be Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccrello flanking Derick Brassard.
Both lines have looked good in their limited preseason action, and both lines are expected to grow together and gain some chemistry to see if they actually work out. This also provides answers to a few questions: Kreider will be given a shot on the top six. Richards will be given a shot at redemption. Pouliot will make this club. New York will have a tertiary scoring line. These were all major questions heading into camp, and all have been answered.
This also answers questions about the second line, which will likely consist of the three guys who are not partaking in full camp with the rest of the team: Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Callahan. The fourth line will probably be Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, and a rotating right wing (Derek Dorsett, Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham, Darroll Powe). The logical guess here is that Dorsett and Pyatt will split the rotation, with Dorsett playing the physical enforcer role, and Pyatt playing the depth scoring role.
On defense, AV seems happy with the pairings of Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi, Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto, and John Moore-Anton Stralman. The McDonagh/Girardi pairing will likely continue to get the tough matchups. Moore and Stralman will probably get the easiest minutes and some good offensive zone starts. The pairing that intrigues me the most is Staal and Del Zotto. That pairing has the potential to be stellar, if Staal is back at 100%. That is a big if.
There are still nine days left in camp, but a lot of the questions are being answered. A few questions do remain (fourth line RW, number of forwards/defensemen being carried, replacing Haglein/Callahan), but it is refreshing to see some set lines this early in camp. One thing is for sure: The Rangers will dress 18 talented skaters every night. Not many teams can say that.