Predicting lineup changes with Hagelin’s impending returnOctober 29, 2013, by
As of today, Carl Hagelin is eligible to be activated off long-term injured reserve and rejoin the Rangers roster on Long Island. Hagelin, who had offseason shoulder surgery, was placed on LTIR at the start of the season. He had to sit out three weeks or ten games, whichever came first, and tonight’s game against the Islanders is the first game that he can be activated and return to the roster.
When Hagelin was placed on LTIR, the Rangers gained an additional roster spot and the salary cap space to fill his spot. With Jesper Fast’s demotion last night, the Rangers have made room on the roster for him to rejoin the team. The club will also need to clear $2.25 million in cap space. But it’s not just about sending someone down or clearing cap space, it’s clearing space among the 12 forwards to insert Hagelin back into the lineup.
When it comes to cap space, I am unsure if the Fast demotion clears enough room for Hagelin to return. I’m not good with day-to-day cap space, and that is how LTIR works when teams spend over the cap with injured players. Neither Ryan Callahan nor Rick Nash are on LTIR, so placing one –or both– on LTIR can easily clear that space. My guess is that Cally, who has the definite time table for return, is placed on LTIR retroactive to his injury in Washington.
The difficult part is figuring out how this affects the lineup for tonight. Hagelin is a LW, and the current players lining up at LW are Chris Kreider, Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, and Taylor Pyatt. I can already hear you all screaming in my ear about Pyatt.
I’d expect Hagelin to slide into the 2LW spot, with Pouliot (3LW) sliding down and Pyatt remaining as the 4LW. Zuccarello will probably move over to the right side, a position he’s relatively comfortable with.
Hagelin’s return is just one of three returns that will help the Rangers immensely as they climb back to respectability. New York has missed Hagelin’s speed and puck possession ability, and will benefit greatly when he returns.
*-So this post was originally written before the Rangers sent Fast to the AHL at 11:30pm last night. I scrambled a bit to rewrite this. I can assure you the original post was much more thought out. I had to cut about half of it, since Brandon Mashinter is still with the club and a spot among the 12 forwards doesn’t need to be cleared.