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Improved depth may be the most important change this year

Darroll Powe is one of many options the Rangers have in Hartford

Though the Rangers certainly can’t replace core players like Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin flawlessly, the organization does have substantially more quality depth this year.  Whereas last season New York was forced to call-up the likes of Kris Newbury, Benn Ferriero and Brandon Segal when AHL reinforcements were needed, the 2013-2014 Blueshirts have as many as 10 decent substitute options.  Emergency fill-ins like Micheal Haley and Brandon Mashinter – who both played several games last season – are still available, but they’ve been joined by a host of near NHL-ready prospects and a surplus of proven veteran depth forwards.

The delayed re-signing of Derek Stepan, the ongoing negotiation stalemate with Henrik Lundqvist, the new coaching staff and the impressive play of top prospects got more attention during training camp, but improved depth may prove to be the story of the season.

Though the new logjam made it awfully tricky for youngsters like Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg and Danny Kristo to make the squad, it will pay off in the long run and it’s very possible that each of those players will get a shot on Broadway at some point this year.

Even in a shortened 48-game season, New York dressed 33 different players last year.  While who makes the opening night roster is a hot topic of conversation in September, it’s really irrelevant in the grand scheme of a season and exhibition games and training camp are equally important for determining how many extra serviceable bodies a team has entering a season.

There are already injuries to two critical top-six wingers and we all know New York has been beset by other costly injuries in the past.  There will surely be more of those, an unforeseen in-season trade or two, and a couple of players that looked great in camp but couldn’t carry it over to the regular season.  Those are issues that every team has to deal with, but New York is positioned very well this season to stomach those kinds of hiccups.

And even if New York just needs an injection of a specialty skill, the Blueshirts probably have it waiting in the wings.  Need a great penalty killer?  Darroll Powe is waiting.  Struggling on faceoffs?  Oscar Lindberg is an ace.  Lacking toughness for a game against the Flyers?  Haley is still around.  Not enough speed in the lineup?  Chris Kreider has plenty of that.

Improved depth won’t help the Rangers score on the power play, rejuvenate Brad Richards or accelerate the team’s adaptation to Alain Vigneault, but it could still be invaluable.

15 Responses to “Improved depth may be the most important change this year”

  1. Walt says:

    Agree, there is nothing like a strong bench to call upon when needed. I thought that Kreider, and Kristo were going to be in the line up for the season opener, but there were more deserving players, Miller, Fast! This is going to be a very interesting season……

    When Callie, and Hags come back, who goes down????

    • Dave says:

      Miller/Fast probably.

      • Evan M says:

        I agree, but what if Miller strongly outplays Boyle or Pyatt(I understand that these are two different roles)? If Miller and/or Fast are excelling during the first 5-8 games, do you really send them down?

        • Dave says:

          That is something I honestly can’t answer. Waivers will play a part.

          • Ray says:

            There’s also a matter of interest around the league. Any team that thought that Pyatt, Asham, or Powe could help them would be foolish to not inquire what the Rangers wanted in return. And the Rangers would certainly not force a veteran to play in Hartford if he had an opportunity elsewhere.

    • WilliamW says:

      I’d guess Fast nd Pyatt, I think AV really likes Miller and I agree with him

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        I love JT Millers game and Fast is so smart.Both are skilled,tough and fast.Pyatt goes somewhere.

  2. Ray says:

    Rangers actually dressed 36-37 players last year (I think Talbot dressed for a game but never played.) 34 skaters including an amazing 24 forwards (26 if you count Bickel and Gilroy). This was more than most 82 game seasons.

    I didn’t think 13-17 depth was a problem last year. Ferreiro is a competent reserve. It was the 10-12 forwards that were a problem. The Rangers didn’t have a full team when healthy.

  3. AD says:

    What if Miller and/or Fast outplay Richards?

    Hmmm…..

    (sorry, could not resist :) )

    • Dave says:

      They won’t be waiving Richards. That much is guaranteed.

      • TxRanger says:

        What do you think happens if he has an awful first 20 or so games, looks as bad or worse than last year? Do you think they shut him down for the year or what? No one will claim him off waivers and no one will trade for that awful contract.

        If he gets bought out after this year, is his career over?

  4. Matt Josephs says:

    Good news for Powe and more so the Rangers I guess is that I’m pretty sure there are no re-entry waivers anymore. That’s better news for the Rangers because then Powe couldn’t be claimed by another team.

    I do agree that this newfound depth could be helpful, but I think we should all just temper our expectations a bit considering basically everyone outside of Powe and Kreider have a collective total of 0 NHL games under their belt. Still, it’s better than what we had last year by a lot.

    • Dave says:

      Re-entry waivers was removed from the CBA. The only concern is when they get sent back to Hartford.