With the Rangers facing the reality of opening the year without Ryan Callahan for at least a game and Carl Hagelin for much longer – without even considering the lack of practice time for Derek Stepan – would the Rangers be best prepared leaning on the veterans to begin the year?
With Jesper Fast and JT Miller tentatively penciled in for the Coyotes game, the Rangers intend to employ two important pieces of their future, now. Neither player figures to be in the top six based on practices and the varied reports from the beat writers.
As we saw with Chris Kreider, if a prospect doesn’t deserve to be with the big club, he won’t be. Sometimes even when a prospect deserves to be (as could be argued with all of Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo, or Connor Allen) it’s in no ones interest to see those players marginalised for the sake of numbers.
So why Miller and Fast? Both players so far have showed a level of accountability and skill – and end product – that suggested they had to be kept up. With Callahan and Hagelin out for varying lengths of time, it will be interesting and highly important to see how these prospects are deployed.
The Rangers face a difficult situation with Miller and Fast. Both players have tremendous long term potential for the club, particularly given the lack of contractual commitments the club have to deal with, so the club need to balance the benefit of their immediate involvement compared to their long term development.
The likes of Kreider, Hrivik, and Kristo may have seen their demotions to the Wolfpack as personal set backs, but it may be that being on the Wolfpack puts them – and not those with the Rangers – in the best positions to succeed of all the prospects close to the NHL club.
At this stage of the season there are at least six key prospects in the starting blocks facing important years in their careers –spread over different leagues – but all facing the same starting points. All these players offer the same dilemma to the Rangers; short term pain/long term gain. How the Rangers handle these situations will have a significant impact on the overall health of the franchise.