Predicting roster moves when Callahan, Hagelin return

October 3, 2013, by
J.T. Miller will need to force his way into a permanent spot in New York (Seth Wenig/AP)

J.T. Miller will need to force his way into a permanent spot in New York (Seth Wenig/AP)

One question that has been brought up a lot recently is who the Rangers will waive or return to Hartford when Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin return to the lineup. Cally is aiming for a Monday return in LA, while Hagelin is currently on LTIR and will miss –at a minimum– the first ten games of the season. The two rookies on the roster, Jesper Fast (RW) and J.T. Miller (LW) appear to be the placeholders for Cally and Hags.

Considering the Captain will only miss one game, it is almost a sure-fire bet that Fast will be returned to Hartford once Cally is good to go. As good as Fast has been in the preseason, big minutes are more important to his development than remaining with the big club. Cally will slide into Fast’s spot in the lineup, maybe causing a bit of a shakeup of the lines on his return. After that, the left wings have another handful of games as an extended tryout to remain with the club when Hagelin returns.

The most obvious candidate to be cut is Miller, who does not require waivers to be sent to the AHL. However, Miller has a nice mix of speed, skill, and grit that this lineup may be able to use. If Miller plays well, meaning he has more than two solid games in a row, then the coaching staff will be faced with another tough decision.

The two players that, based on my @ mentions on Twitter and some of the comments in previous posts, most people want to see gone are Taylor Pyatt and Brad Richards. The latter will not be waived unless his play is absolutely atrocious. Considering he was on a 60-point pace last season, let’s put this one to bed. It’s not happening. It was about as likely as Teemu Selanne signing someone outside of Anaheim.

That leaves lonely Pyatt. He has been a bit of a whipping boy around here, and that may be a little unfair now. Pyatt wasn’t really meant for an intensive skating John Tortorella system. His foot speed was exploited quite often, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a useful cog. He has great hockey IQ, and he has a history of being serviceable under AV in Vancouver. Since AV will require a less intense style of play, Pyatt may be able to turn it around.

In the end, I think waiver status plays a role in the decision. There are plenty of teams that could use cheap bottom-six help (Islanders), and Pyatt hitting the waiver wire would just be strengthening New York’s opponents. The one thing we’ve been harping on all offseason is the new and improved depth at forward. Unless Miller forces the Rangers brass to keep him, there’s no reason to really tinker with that depth.

Categories : Forwards


  1. Mikeyyy says:

    I hope the young guns force some hard decisions to be made.

    Miller is nhl ready. And fast has been playing in a league of men. No reason they shouldn’t stick. Talent has no age

    • Dave says:

      Miller wasn’t NHL ready last year, but I want to see if he can improve upon an impressive preseason this year.

  2. Ryan says:

    Uhhhh. They’re only carrying 22 active players so they don’t have to cut anyone for cally’s return and why not Asham when Hags comes back? Isn’t he kinda redundant with Dorsett on the roster?

    • Dave says:

      You are right, they don’t have to, but why keep Fast if he’s not going to play?

  3. Walt says:

    I’m on the side of fans who believes that Pyatt should go. If he isn’t the slowest forward in the entire NHL, I don’t know who is. He doesn’t belong on the top nine, maybe 4th line duty, but I’d rather keep the Miller kid around, and let him develope into a first rate forward in the NHL!! As stated, he has speed, skill, grit, plays multiple positions, what’s not to like?????

    • Dave says:

      If the only open spot is the 4LW, you prefer Miller there to get 5-8 mins a game? Would rather he get 15-17 in Hartford to get much needed experience.

      • WilliamW says:

        Doesn’t seem like the 4th line will be getting 5 mins a night so far

        Miller will stay up if he can help the Rangers win more than Pyatt/Asham

        I’m all for slow development but at some point you need that development to turn into NHL ice time

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Walt, you’re forgetting a very slow man with 2 first names:

      John Scott

      I’d bet he would get from point A to point B slower than Pyatt.

      Everybody here needs to remember how much Pyatt stepped up in the playoffs last year for us, as he did the year before in Phoenix. I hated him last year. He was painful to watch. I broke remote controls watching him.

      Then once the playoffs kicked off and the games became tighter with more snarl along the boards and in front of the net he fully justified his roster spot.

      I’m not saying I want him on our roster this year…. just pointing out that the guy isn’t useless. He was one of our most noticeable forwards last year in the postseason. And the POSTSEASON IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.

      Live on. Live Strong.

      • Dave says:

        Hah. Forgot about John Scott. Remember when we gave up a 5th round pick for him?

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        Fair point about Pyatt stepping up in the playoffs where board play and crease play is invaluable. He’s one of the few players on this team that can effectively battle in the crease.

        As Dave pointed out, if Miller is only going to get 4th line minutes when Hagelin returns, it makes more sense to have him play in the AHL with a full complement of minutes.

        Time will tell. Evaluations are ongoing and if Pyatt can adapt to AV’s style, he won’t be going anywhere.

      • Walt says:


        I remember very well, but he did nothing to help us get into the play-offs in the first place!! I would rather have a kid who is hungry playing, than a vet who waits until the play-offs to put out an effert! That is my opinion, and I respect yours.

  4. Bloomer says:

    If Miller or Fast are playing better then others on the roster, they should stay up with the squad. Assessments of the team should be ongoing, the weak links sit in the press box or get moved. The Rangers cant afford any passengers.

  5. MBN says:

    I think Asham sticks around in case the going gets rough, if you know what I mean. We don’t have too many “grit” guys like him; can fight and play a bit of hockey.

    • AdamGravesIsTheMan says:

      I actually think Asham has looked great this pre-season. Created his own offensive opportunities and looked quick on the ice.

      • Dave says:

        Asham looked great in the preseason, it’s why Powe is in the AHL right now.

        It’s basically a competition between him and Dorsett for that 4RW spot. Dorsett needs a good start to the year.

  6. WilliamW says:

    Agree that Callahan for Fast is a no brainer

    Miller’s flexibility is nice to have up as he can take draws, play on a scoring line or bottom 6. I think he stays and Pyatt gets moved to the press box

  7. AD says:

    Over the past four seasons, the team was coached with a “tie goes to youth” policy. We should learn early on in the season if AV operates this way. I am not hopeful but will remain open minded until proven otherwise.

    The Rangers challenges in recent years related primarily to offense and, more specifically, offensive production during the power play. Fast played well offensively and on the power play during training camp, and better addresses the team’s needs than Pyatt, for example, on the third line.

    Fast played LW in training camp; no reason he cannot play there alongside Miller and Callahan for a more offensive oriented line than if Pyatt or Boyle were on that line.

    It comes down to a) will he play well enough; and b) will the coach have patience letting him learn.

    Replacing a coach but putting the same type of players on the ice as last season will mostly lead to the same results as last season.

    • Dave says:

      “Tie goes to the youth” if the position on the roster is something the youth would be playing. “Tie goes to the youth” doesn’t apply if Miller is on the 4th line when Hagelin returns.

      • AD says:

        In the case of Fast, he can play either LW or RW, so this is not an issue when Callahan returns.

        After Hagelin returns, that will then present the dillemna of who is assigned 3rd line center: Richards or Miller. Much will (or should) depend on how Miller performs and progresses from game 1, to game 10.

        And that is the point: will AV be committed to our youth if Miller proves himself, or does “tie go to the aging veteran with a big contract.”

        Like I said in the very beginning, I have some doubts but will remain open-minded until proven otherwise.

        • Dave says:

          So what you would be looking at:

          Carl Hagelin/Brad Richards-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
          Brad Richards/Carl Hagelin-JT Miller-Ryan Callahan
          Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
          Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett

          Not bad. Could definitely happen. My question is this: If you want Fast in the lineup, where does he play?

          • AD says:

            My inclination would be for Fast to play on our 3rd line, something like this:

            Hagelin / Stepan / Nash
            Zuccarella-Pouliot / Brassard / Callahan-Zuccarella
            Pouliot-Fast / Miller / Fast-Callahan
            Boyle / Moore / Dorsett

            Pouliot looks like a potentially nice player, but I’d rather seem him perform well on 3rd line so MZA and Callahan could both get 2nd line minutes.

            If AV plays 2nd and 3rd lines equally, then I’d rather have Callahan play alongside Miller and Fast because I think that is best match of skills and the young guys would develop better with Cally’s leadership on the line.

            I would be ecstatic if Richards proves last season to be an anomoly and has a solid season. In that case, I would let Pouliot and Boyle battle for a spot on the team, and keep Miller at center.

            • Dave says:

              So you have Richards as a scratch?

              • AD says:

                In the case of tie goes to youth, I certainly do.

                Perhaps Pouliot will disappoint and be another Erik Christenson, and deserve to be benched before Richards.

                But, barring something like that, I play Fast or any rookie over Richards if the performance profiles are comparable.

                In short, I see Richards as battling for one position only, and that is 3rd line center. I’ve never heard of a veteran center being successful at wing during the last few years of his career. AV is obviously trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

  8. Ray says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your conclusions, but I’m not sure a young player gets more out of 18 minutes a game in the AHL than 7 minutes a game in the NHL. I think it depends. In the case of Kreider, who really has to develop a new playing style, Hartford is the right place. And it is important that a player you want to score play a scoring role. But, for example, if you envision Lindberg as a checker long term, I suspect he is better served developing his talents on the fourth line in NY with fewer minutes.

    • Dave says:

      It’s about working out the kinks at lower levels so you can apply your changes at the NHL (faster) level.

  9. bernmeister says:

    Keeping this brief…

    Richards should have been amnestied. The unspoken truth this they kept him so they would be up vs. the cap when renegotiating McDonagh + particularly Stepan. It gave credence to saying they could do a larger deal for Step, and he would have to take a bridge.

    I don’t care if Richards rebounds, which if he does at all, will be slightly at best. The risk of Richards getting injured and amnesty exempt outweighs all other considerations. If he does not want to voluntarily do something w/Rangers to privately buy out the contract now, we must dress but not play him (NMC = not going down, plus playing in AHL also has injury risk) then buy out after this season.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about what he wants.
    I’m the fan, he can bend, buckle and break in his arrogance before what I and most of the rest of the fans want. He is entitled to the paycheck by contract. He is not entitled or guaranteed playing even if he must be kept on the roster. And he deserves every iota of bad publicity he gets.

    Taylor Pyatt’s days have come and gone. Does not deserve spot.

    Give away Pyatt, Powe, roster spot + cap $ worth more.

    eventual Roster Fs should be:

    Pouilot Stepan Nash
    Kreider Miller Callahan
    Hagelin Brassard Fast
    Asham Moore Dorsett

    We should deal Stepan for an uber elite blue chip righty D, preferably Seth Jones. Move Brassard to the first line, insert Lindberg and have an all Swedish line Hags — Lindy — Fast

    Boyle is fine enough at FOs but then should immediately flip to wing, has min. vision for offensive creativity. Boyle has better trade value than Asham, who I would keep the 1 final yr.
    Trade Boyle.

    Zuc can be 13th F but only IF he has developed enough speed to breakaway on offense AND can skillfully enough play D checking bigger guys. If yes, welcome, if not, we can’t keep him as specialist for OT shootouts that do not apply to playoffs.

    Yes, Kreider needs to improve but was not bad in camp if you consider truthful fact: he was asked to play basic game w/Miller, and looked good, then asked to play w/Pyatt/Boyle and did not, plus was told specifically to experiment with deflections in front of net. He is in last year of ELC. Everybody looks good w/Miller, but JT is the only C fast enough to keep up Kreider. They feed off each other. Speed kills. With Cally, they = superspeed line, and the Swedish line would be fast enough to keep up pressure.

    On D, move MDZ for asset if good enough price,
    so LD = McD, Staal, Moore