Archive for Preseason
Preseason hockey is nearly upon us, making for an excellent time to scope out some new players and old vets to get an early assessment of how things are going to shake out once the Rangers open the regular season against the Islanders on October 13th.
This preseason should be particularly informative, given the influx of new young talent at forward and the way the defensive corps has stayed largely the same, except for the departure of Keith Yandle. We should be able to glean some answers, or at least begin to understand how things are going to look, for better or for worse, once thee regular season gets underway.
The Rangers have announced the training camp roster, which includes 63 players:
There are a few AHL contract guys on the list, as well as a bunch of kids headed back to Juniors. The real battles will be for the bottom six forward spots and perhaps the last pairing on defense. The first preseason game is just six days away. Hockey –well, NHL hockey– is almost back.
The Rangers have released their six game preseason schedule. Preseason is delayed this year due to the World Cup, starting on September 27 this year, and continuing through the first week of October.
- 9/27 vs NYI
- 9/29 vs NJD
- 10/1 @ NJD
- 10/3 @ PHI
- 10/4 @ NYI
- 10/6 vs PHI
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.
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.
Happy Friday, BSB’ers! The preseason is officially over and we are only five days away from the 2015-2016 opener in Chicago. There are still some cuts looming and possibly a roster move or two. Naturally, I have some thoughts…
1. The more I think about the concept, the more I like the idea of eight defenseman. The Rangers have a pretty diverse skill set amongst their backliners, so I think using some sort of rotation to keep certain guys (Boyle, Girardi) fresh and to take advantage of matchups is a good idea.
2. Kevin Klein is a difficult call for me. On one hand, he is overpriced for his place on this roster. I think he is a bargain for teams of lesser defensive depth, but he is a luxury for us. His presence makes for waiver exposure to cost-effective guys that are useful to the roster. Read More→
The Rangers will be making their final round of cuts by Friday, and it is expected that the roster will be down to 23 players by that point. While the only apparently certainty is that Jayson Megna will be cut, there are plenty of other options for the Rangers. They can make a trade or two to free up cap space and roster space for kids. They can also subject some players to waivers.
But beyond who makes it, there are other roster decisions to be made. By my count, only six forward roles and five defensemen roles have been set. That means there are a lot of areas that need to be addressed before opening night.
Update: I added the video code from Sporting News, our video partner, to this post. However the video is blocked at work, so I can’t tell if the code is working or if the video fits on the screen. Can you guys let me know in the comments please?
The Rangers closed out the preseason with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins, ending the preseason with a 4-1-1 record. Preseason records don’t necessarily mean much, but you can tell a lot about the Rangers from this preseason (which we will get to, I promise). The team will travel to West Point for some bonding before heading to Chicago to open the season. Here are the bullet points from last night’s game.
- Dylan McIlrath better make this team, and he better play. He’s certainly earned it. As I’ve said, and as everyone who writes for this blog has said, if he can do what Klein does, at $2.3 million less, then it’s a no-brainer. We already know he can do what Tanner Glass does.
- Speaking of Klein and Glass, I know I only caught the last two periods, but I didn’t really notice them that much. I could be biased though since I am specifically watching for McIlrath.
- There was one play that I saw from Raphael Diaz that stuck with me. The puck was behind the Rangers net late in the first with the Bruins pressuring. Diaz lost his balance, but was able to dive and get the puck across to Dan Girardi. It was one of those solid plays that went unnoticed.
- As for Diaz’s game, I thought he was solid. Good puck decisions. Moved the puck well on the powerplay. Made a few miscues positionally in his own end, but nothing that would be deemed glaring.
- Viktor Stalberg and J.T. Miller went straight to the net for the Stalberg goal (the Ryan McDonagh shot). Good to see someone other than Chris Kreider in front.