The Rangers are expected to use their same lines from practice in the season opener in Chicago tomorrow night.
The strength of the farm system for the Rangers has been called into question numerous times in the past few years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time the Rangers were ranked –by a reputable source– in the top-half of the league. My guess is that it’s close to 2010, when the Rangers had Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh ready to make an NHL impact.
But yet here we are in 2015, and the Rangers have two more prospects ready to contribute at the NHL level. Oscar Lindberg is starting as the team’s third line center, while Dylan McIlrath will be starting as the extra defenseman. Both had impressive preseasons, and while McIlrath is going to open the season as a scratch, all signs point to him making an impact this year.
The Hartford Wolf Pack have cut nine more players from camp:
Loaned by the Wolf Pack to Greenville (ECHL):
Forwards (2): Jack Combs, Kodie Curran
Released from training camp tryout and joining Greenville (ECHL):
Defensemen (1): Justin Da Silva
Released from training camp tryout and joining Missouri (ECHL):
Goaltender (1): Josh Robinson
Tanner Glass returned to practice today, skating as the 8th defenseman with Dylan McIlrath. Glass missed two days with a leg issue. The only other item of note from practice was Emerson Etem swapping in with Jesper Fast for fourth line reps. This doesn’t mean Etem will play over Fast, just that he’s getting reps in at his usual position.
The Rangers finished up their preseason schedule last week with a win over the Bruins, and then promptly made two more cuts to solidify the opening night roster at 23 players. Those 23 players will include 14 forwards. While most will not be happy with the decision to carry a 14th forward, be it Emerson Etem or Tanner Glass, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that the Rangers still have decisions to make. Even with decisions to make, we learned a lot from this preseason.
- Despite what Alain Vigneault said about wanting to start strong, the Rangers will likely be a .500 team in October. AV historically starts slow, as does Henrik Lundqvist. But this year the Rangers will be spending most of the month tinkering with the lineup. There is still a battle for the 12th/13th forward spots between Jarret Stoll, Tanner Glass, and Emerson Etem. One will go. Considering the need for cap space, you can infer where this is going.
- The Rangers can’t be that happy with Etem’s performance in camp, and if he were waiver-exempt, he’d be in Hartford. Waivers complicates matters. Etem will get a long leash –at least through December– to show he can pick up AV’s systems. Remember how long it took this team to pick up AV’s systems two years ago? Etem will take that long as well.
- It’s clear the Rangers want Glass to take the 13F spot, and will likely give him as many opportunities as they can. He’s a good guy and a great teammate. The problem is that it doesn’t translate to the ice. Stoll isn’t what he used to be, not by a long shot, but is still a better option than Glass. He’s on the outside looking in at this point.
The Hartford Wolf Pack trimmed their training camp roster by 12 players this past weekend:
Released from training camp tryouts and joining Greenville (ECHL):
Forwards (4): Domenic Alberga, Scott Fleming, Brad McGowan, Paul Rodrigues
Defensemen (3): Tyler Elbrecht, Sean Escobedo, Davis Vandane
Goaltenders (1): Alex Vazzano
Released from training camp tryouts:
Forwards (2): Luke Curadi, Stefano Momesso
It’s no real surprise that Donnay and Noreau, the only two signed to ELCs from the cut list, were sent to the ECHL. The Pack’s defense is loaded this year, and while both defensemen are huge, they have glaring holes in their respective games. Noreau spent most of last year in the ECHL, while Donnay was an overager in the OHL.
Both Raphael Diaz and Jayson Megna cleared waivers this afternoon, and will report to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Megna clearing was no surprise, but it is relatively surprising that Diaz cleared. There are a few teams that could use a cheap, capable defenseman –specifically Boston, who is without Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg– but I guess teams want to see what they have internally first.
What this also means is that the lines we saw today in practice are not the set lines going forward. Alain Vigneault likes to tinker, and although he’s stated he wants to start the season faster, tinkering likely means the Rangers will continue to play .500 hockey in October.
The decision goes beyond Glass/Emerson Etem. This is also about line combinations, player positions, and matchups. There are always many more decisions to be made aside from cuts. Expect AV to go with multiple combinations, which means some unhappy fans regarding lineup decisions, through October.
Tanner Glass is not on the ice, after taking a shot to the leg and limping off.
The Kreider/Stepan/Hayes line was a possession monster on Wednesday, so it’s not shocking to see them together. We still don’t know what will be of Lindberg, but all signs point to him being able to handle the offensive load of a 3C, while providing enough defensive responsibilities to cover the inevitable Miller gaffe in the DZ.
The fourth line can certainly handle the tough DZ starts, even if Stoll is fading a bit.
The Rangers have cut the roster to 23 players, waiving defenseman Raphael Diaz and forward Jayson Megna. Megna was always one of the expected cuts, and I guess waiving Diaz shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Dylan McIlrath outplayed him in camp, and it was really a decision between them, despite our optimistic hopes that the Rangers would try to clear cap space by trading Kevin Klein. Megna will clear waivers, however I’d be surprised if Diaz clears. Boston desperately needs a cheap defenseman.
By replacing Diaz with McIlrath, the Rangers save $100,000 in cap space, and are $150,000 under the ceiling. They are carrying 14 forwards and 7 defensemen, so there is still one decision looming. My guess is that the Rangers are trying to work a trade for Tanner Glass, or else they will waive him.