Initial lines and pairings beginning to form

Kreider and Richards will be given every opportunity to succeed (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Kreider and Richards will be given every opportunity to succeed (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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.

30 Responses to “Initial lines and pairings beginning to form”

  1. Bill says:

    The Rangers have a lot of of quality players, Will they make any trades to free up cap or to maybe add some scoring?

    • WilliamW says:

      They have scoring depth, success will really depend on Richards/Brassard grabbing the offensive 1C position and Kreider becoming a threat

    • Dave says:

      Deep teams do not make trades unless they know they will make the current team better. This is a team constructed to win the Stanley Cup.

      • Ray says:

        The Rangers would make some deals if they could. Asham, Powe, Pyatt are not the kind of players you send to Hartford to await injury call-up necessities. Of course, it’s not clear that anyone wants any of the players the Rangers are willing to trade.

        Of course, opening up cap space is a prelude to making the team better.

  2. WilliamW says:

    Think Dorsett has that spot pretty much locked up. Pyatt is a LW so I’d guess Asham or Powe is kept around as a 13th forward/ 4th line replacement and Pyatt and his $1.55 million cap hit gets sent packing once everyone is healthy (that 500k allows 8 defensemen to be on the roster)

    Stepan bumps Lindberg down to Hartford when he signs Callahan does the same to Kristo when he’s ready and Miller/Pyatt are the short term replacements for Hagelin

    The D appears to be set with Falk/Johnson spending time in the press box

  3. Justin says:

    With Stepan still out of the lineup, I understand AV’s hands are tied and it gives Richards a chance to rebound. However, in my view, Nash is the most important Ranger (non-Henrik Lundqvist division), so putting him in the best position to dominate should be priority #1, and I don’t know if Richie accomplishes that at this point.

    • Dave says:

      AV’s systems aren’t as skating intensive as Torts’ systems. I think he will be able to get more out of an aging Richards.

  4. AD says:

    So we are back quickyl to the pre-Tortorella days whereby overpaid veterans are simply “given” minutes and leadership roles for things accomplished in seasons past, not for today’s on-ice performance. I am speaking of Richards, obviously, whi has not “earned” the #1 or #2 center position, by any stretch. Both Stepan and Brassard are better players at this stage of their respective careers, and it is more important the organization allow Lindberg to develeo as #3 center; yet including Richards means he goes back to Hartford.

    Coincidentally enough, this is exactly why a young Dominic Moore chastised the Rangers when he originally left the team: lack of developing young talent within the organization.

    You can all buy into the hype of a new coach and more smiles on the faces of players coming to the rink because the “hard love” Torts is no longer around; I care about winning and Richards as #1 center (or being on this team, frankly) is not about winning.

    • WilliamW says:

      Valid points but I think you can give him a shot as a top 6 player before completely writing him off. While you can’t ignore last year’s performance you also can’t ignore the rest of his career as a top tier center

      No rush for Lindberg coming up either. Let him dominate the AHL before comng to MSG

    • Dave says:

      I see where the concern is, and you’re not alone in that thinking.

      However, when you have a $6.6 million center that has the history and pedigree that Richards does, you at least give him the chance to rebound.

  5. Sally says:

    I think Richards being on the 1st line is not set in stone. They are giving him a chance. It is up to him whether he stays or not.

  6. Bloomer says:

    Ever since the Nash trade the Rangers are following the script of the past, going with the big names rather then developing from within. AV does not have a history of developing players, he chased Hodgsons out of Vancouver and left the team with the cupboard bare of young talent.

    As far as the lineups, I like to see to some new blood give the kids a chance. JT Miller played well along side of Brian Boyle. D Moore could center a line with Kristo and Lindberg. J Moore should be given every chance to play and why not put Cam Talbot between the pipes for a few games and give him a shot.

    • Jackson says:

      If Lindberg were to be given ice time, wouldn’t you want it to be in the position he plays?

      • Bloomer says:

        Many forwards are adaptable and can play all 3 forward positions, particularly skilled players with high hockey IQs. I think Lindberg could fit the bill.

    • John says:

      Maybe they should just switch the NHL team with the ahl team and let all the youngsters play! Who needs proven players? They are over rated!

    • iceman9999 says:

      lets get together here

    • iceman9999 says:

      1) Rangers NOT following script here, Nash is 27 y/o and NOT 47 y/o like ranger trades in the past..

      Nash is 27 y/o and a player that the Rangers needed and will need to put them over the top.

      2)develop from within!.. 1/3 the rangers team is from within organization. NOBODY can use every player from within(NOT POSSIBLE).. you always need additional players elsewhere to compete in the NHL..

      3) J.T. Miller is not NHL ready. but he is almost there. He had 2 quick goals in his 1st game an that was it. But could be Torts stopped his progress.

      4) Moore, Kristo, Linberg!. no experience on that line. Pens would counter with Crosby, Malk, and crush that line..

      Your passion for the Rangers is very real and you are a true rangers fan like me!!.. but we cant use all kids in games. you have to blend them in and mix & match a little at a time..

      Right now the rangers have a solid team and could make a good run for the cup!..

  7. The Suit says:

    Bummed McD is going to continue to get the “shut down defensemen role”. This is one of the few things Tortorella did that I heavily disagreed with. McD should be given a shot at more offensive situations. I think this kid could be Zubov-esque.

    • Dave says:

      Wouldn’t shock me to see him get PP QB time. I think he’s ready for it. Kid has great vision.

    • WilliamW says:

      Based on the way he likes to play his D the only other option is to swap McD and Staal. I’d rather have his skating to balance on Girardi’s lack of elite speed

      I think the new system will allow the D to get more chances even if he’s a shut down player. Besides, the power vs power line will likely be Hagelin-Stepan-Callahan. All of whom can generate offense

  8. Ray says:

    I just hope AV keeps the Brassard-Pouliot-Zuccarello line together. I think this will emerge as the first line by sheer results. I think the second line, in importance if not name, has to be a line which can be trusted to take the ice against Crosby, Ovechkin etc. I see that as Stepan-Callahan-Hagelin BUT, since the best defense can be a good offense maybe Nash in place of Hags.

    It’s about winning – not about getting good years from Nash, Richards, Kreider, Miller.

  9. Dorsett “an enforcer role”?????
    The guy has lost most of his fights since coming into the NHL…and that is fighting mostly middle-to light heavy weights.

    Kreider plays one game, plays poorly….and you guys put him on the 1st line…….you got to be kidding.

    Can’t see Kreider, Dorsett, Powe, Pyatt lasting much longer with the Rangers.

  10. Bloomer says:

    Zubov..Another player the Rangers gave up on too early.

  11. Mark says:

    Dorsett will be in the tough guy role even though he should not be. He should start on the fourth line and maybe that line should include Haley or Aasham until the injured players get back. Powe skates well etc but even Aasham gets more points.I just hope that this team does not get pushed around early in the season. I know that Sather will make changes if they do..but why wait?

  12. Lou says:

    This team is stacked for the early regular season. Shootouts – we have Zuc. Tight scoring games – we have Hank. Scoring games – we have Nash.

    The mid-season trades that will change us to a cup contender — 1) Byfulien from Winnepeg for Del Z, Bourque and Cam Talbot; and 2) Glencross from Calgary for Pyatt and Asham.

    Then we will finally have mean d-man with scoring touch and grit scorer that stands in front of net.

    Mid-season we will be 3 or 4th in division (finish 2nd), season end we are primed for cup !!