The news broke yesterday that the New York Rangers invited not just one, but three veterans to training camp on a tryout basis: Ruslan Fedotenko, Garnet Exelby, and Alexei Semenov. Tryouts are designed to be a low risk, potential high reward move, in an attempt to find veterans looking to prove themselves after not receiving a contract for the coming season. The Rangers are not paying these guys to be in camp, and can sever ties with them if they do not make the team.
Another great aspect of the tryout is the competition is breeds. By bringing in Exelby and Semenov, players like Wade Redden and, as pointed out by poster Fotiu is God, Matt Gilroy, to bring their ‘A’ game, or else be sent to Hartford. The presence of Exelby, a physical force in the crease, and Semenov, a defensively sound stay-at-home guy, also forces prospect Ryan McDonagh to impress at camp, or else work on his game in the AHL before being called up. There are now nine defensemen, including Marc Staal, vying for seven (assuming an extra defenseman is kept) spots. But in reality, there are really five guys battling it out for two starting positions and one reserve position. Either way, two people are going to either be gone or in Hartford by the start of the season.
As for the curious case of Ruslan Fedotenko, many fans are divided on this. Many look at this as a slap in the face to prospects like Dale Weise, who people believe has “earned” his roster spot (For arguments sake, let’s ignore the fact that they play different positions). Let me be the first to say that Weise hasn’t earned anything yet. Bringing in Fedotenko will just force Weise to step it up in camp, instead of just letting him slide into one of those final RW spots. With so many players vying for so few forward spots (more detail on this in my final Training Camp Preview piece), bringing in Fedotenko on a tryout will just force those guys who think they are comfortable with their spot to re-evaluate that comfort level. This year, it appears that the best players will make the team, regardless of salary or contract status.