Rangers announce final cuts

Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller made the roster, while Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg and Marek Hrivik were assigned to Hartford

The Rangers announced their final roster cuts this morning, assigning Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik, Darroll Powe, Brandon Mashinter, Stu Bickel and Conor Allen to the Hartford Wolfpack.  Powe, Mashinter and Bickel must all clear waivers.

The following players made the opening night roster:

Forwards: Arron Asham, Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Ryan Callahan, Derek Dorsett, Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Pyatt, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Michael Del Zotto, Justin Falk, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, John Moore, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Marty Biron

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Best case/worst case scenarios for Ranger defensemen and goalies in 2013

How good can Ryan McDonagh be?

Defensemen

Aaron Johnson

Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.

Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.

Anton Stralman

Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.

Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »

Ryan Callahan cleared for contact

After Derek Stepan re-signed earlier today, the Rangers received another piece of great news tonight as Ryan Callahan was cleared for contact.  MSG reported the info during the first period of tonight’s game.

Callahan has been skating alongside his teammates for weeks and being cleared was his last major obstacle.  Callahan should be in good condition, so he might not be far away from game action.

Could the captain be in the opening night lineup against Phoenix next Thursday?  It’s not impossible.  Jesper Fast and Marek Hrivik probably hope he needs another week, though.

Best case/worst case scenarios for Ranger forwards in 2013

A bounce-back season from Brad Richards would be a huge boost for the Rangers

Arron Asham

Best case: Asham continues to provide comedic relief on Twitter and plays in a handful of games with the Blueshirts.

Worst case: New York is unable to find a taker for Asham on waivers and he spends the final year of his contract in Hartford.

Benoit Pouliot

Best case: The former fourth-overall pick puts it all together as a Blueshirt and records a 20-goal season.

Worst case: The Rangers learn why Pouliot has already played for four teams in his young career and the big forward is invisible most nights. Read more »

Is Marek Hrivik the prospect most likely to make the team?

Marek Hrivik has an NHL-ready body

The battle for forward positions has been the talk of training camp thus far, and several of New York’s youngsters have made strong cases to be on the opening night roster.  Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Danny Kristo and Marek Hrivik have all impressed, while 2011 first-round pick J.T. Miller hasn’t gotten the opportunity due to injuries.  With Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan out for the first chunk of the season, one or more of these players will likely be thrust into significant roles come October 3rd.

Chris Kreider has been skating with Brad Richards and Rick Nash for much of camp and it seems like a foregone conclusion that he’ll be locked into a top-six role at the start of the season.  But after Kreider, the roster battle is still ongoing. Read more »

5 biggest questions entering training camp

What’s the status of Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin?

Both players underwent surgery on torn shoulder labrums following the 2013 season and their initial recovery timelines indicated they could each miss the first month of the 2013-2014 season.  However, both Callahan and Hagelin have been skating with teammates in the weeks leading up to training camp and have reported no setbacks.  Neither is ready for contact just yet, but they both seem to be progressing quickly.  It’s still a good bet that neither player will be ready for the season-opener, but we should get a clearer picture of their status during camp. Read more »

Don’t panic if the Rangers struggle on their season-opening road trip

Nine straight road games to start the season are probably not the ideal way to start for Alain Vigneault

Two years ago the Rangers went on their first prolonged road trip to start the season as Madison Square Garden underwent renovations.  The Blueshirts played their first two games in Europe, which they lost in overtime to the Kings and in a shootout to the Ducks.  New York had a week off before falling to the Islanders – then the club flew to western Canada for games against Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and finally Winnipeg.

New York came out of the trip with a modest 3-2-2 record, but then dropped its first two games on home ice to Toronto and Ottawa.  Six losses in the first nine games was an ugly way to kick off the 2011-2012 campaign for a team with playoff aspirations, and many of the Blueshirt faithful were in full-fledged panic mode. Read more »

Sather: Lots of interest in Brian Boyle

(Image Credit: Newsday)

Rangers GM Glen Sather raised some eyebrows last week when he told Edmonton’s Team 1260 that he’s received lots of interest in center Brian Boyle, but is loath to deal the 28-year-old.

“I’ve had a lot of requests for Brian’s services,” Sather said. “I’m not anxious to trade him. I think he’s a good player, he’s a great team guy and I think he has still an upside to go to. He’s one of those guys you may regret trading if you do trade him so I’m not anxious to do anything with him at this time.” Read more »

Who will Alain Vigneault use in shootouts?

Dominic Moore is five-of-12 in his career

Though the skills competition isn’t really a fair way to determine the winner of a hockey game, success in the shootout has granted some teams entry to the postseason and – as Rangers fans know all too well – denied others.

Thanks in large part to Henrik Lundqvist’s heroics, New York has traditionally been a solid shootout club.  The Blueshirts went 4-4 in the event last season and are 53-40 overall since its inception in 2005.

Last season, coach John Tortorella relied heavily on Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash in the shootout and it’s likely that new coach Alain Vigneault will do the same.  It also seems like a no-brainer that Vigneault will deploy one of New York’s most deadly shootout weapons – Mats Zuccarello – now that the Norwegian is back for a full season.  So who could Vigneault turn to in Callahan’s absence to start the season and in the event of future slumps/injuries?  Let’s take a look at how New York’s forwards did in the skills competition last year: Read more »

Never-ending Staal to Carolina talk continues to make no sense

Marc has never said a word about joining his brothers in Carolina

Ever since Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract extension from Pittsburgh last June, leading to a blockbuster draft day trade to the Hurricanes, Rangers fans have been panicked about Marc Staal’s desire to join his three brothers in Carolina.

Marc himself has never given us any reason to believe he’s anything but thrilled to be playing in New York, but it’s of course not a giant leap to think the four Staal brothers have discussed playing together.

With Marc set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, many nervous Rangers fans have suggested that GM Glen Sather phone Carolina GM Jim Rutherford and see what he can get for Marc now, well in advance of the end of Marc’s contract, before his trade value depreciates.

There are a couple of problems with this:

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