Rangers Make Second Round Cuts

The Rangers have made their second round of cuts, and some of the 11 cuts are going to surprise people. Goaltender Chad Johnson, defenseman Wade Redden, and forwards Jeremy Williams, Kris Newbury, Dane Byers, Evgeny Grachev, Dale Weise, and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen have been sent to Hartford. Garnet Exelby, Alexei Semenov, and Brandon Manning have been released from their tryouts. It is surprising to see MZA on that list of cuts, but it appears that the presence of Ruslan Fedotenko has prompted the Rangers not to force the young winger into a situation where he may not succeed or lose confidence.

Evgeny Grachev being cut shouldn’t be taken the wrong way by Ranger fans. Grachev is just 20 years old, and to make the team at 20, you have to really impress the coaching staff. Grachev had a solid camp and preseason, but solid doesn’t get you a roster spot. He needed to be exceptional. Considering the depth the Rangers have at wing, there is no need to rush the young prospect. As for Dale Weise, he is also a product of Fedotenko. Weise is just 22 years old, and although he played well, his spot on the team was going to have to be earned by outplaying Fedotenko, which he did not. Weise is on the final year of his entry level deal, and will be given another shot at earning his spot next year.

Semenov was another who had a good preseason and camp, which may lead to some surprise he was cut. But with Steve Eminger signed, and youngsters Pavel Valentenko and Michael Sauer impressing, there is a bit of a logjam on the blue line. Semenov was in camp as a safety measure, and it appears that safety measure is no longer required. Too bad “domestic issues” forced him to return to Russia last year. Exelby did not impress at all during camp, and played very poorly against New Jersey. It is not a surprise to see him go.

Byers, Williams, and Newbury will have to clear waivers to be sent to Hartford. It is unlikely that any will be claimed, but Byers would be the most likely to be claimed. It’s tough to not feel for Byers, but with Derek Boogaard and Brandon Prust in the fold, Byers no longer has a spot on this team. As for Williams and Newbury, they were destined for Hartford when they were signed.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that MA as sent to Hartford. MZA had a solid camp, and a good preseason. However, as I predicted, he needs time to adjust to the physical North American style before he is ready to play at the NHL level. With so much NHL depth already on the roster (on short term contracts), there is no need to rush the young Norwegian. He will probably be one of the first call ups should there be an injury or someone forgets how to play hockey.

The race for the Rangers starters has become much clearer. There are five players vying for the final three defensive spots (Valentenko, Sauer, Eminger, Matt Gilroy, Ryan McDonagh). There are now 15 forwards on the roster for 13 spots, and that 15 includes the injured Chris Drury meaning there will be two more forwards cut. With Fedotenko and Tim Kennedy likely to make the team, Brian Boyle could be on his way to Hartford as well, in addition to one more forward. The Rangers have three preseason games left, and the race for the final roster spots just heated up.

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  • I’m surprised to see MZA go this early. A year in Hartford is no disaster but thought he’d see at least one more game in the exhibition period.

    I’m glad Sauer is getting an extended look. Good kid who just needs to stay healthy. He could form a nice no frills, strong defensively pairing with McDonagh on the 3rd or be the guy to spell Gilroy/McDonagh as the 7th D-man.

    Tim Kennedy at this stage is looking like a nice pick up and making Buffalo look pretty stupid for letting him go for the sake of 200-300k.

    • I’m glad to see Sauer get a longer look as well, and I like the physical presence that he and Valentenko have brought though I think Sauer has the edge of these two. Valentenko has been more noticeable with his shot and hits but Sauer looks more steady.

      I would think at this point that Gilroy makes the team – his R handed shot looks good with MDZ on the PP. In fact I like the bottom pairing as a rotation of McDonagh, Gilroy and Sauer with Valentenko the first call-up. Keep the kids fresh and let them continue to work for their playing time.

      • Gilroy has been one of the best skaters in camp, he’s done a great job on defense and on the PP.

        Valentenko will lose out to Sauer IMO, mainly because Val is a step slower, and it showed against Detroit.

        • Dave, I realize that he is our most veteran D-man and slotted at the second unit with MDZ but if Gilroy takes his spot on the first PP unit does this make Roszival tradeable? With the progress of our younger players and considering his contract Do you think he’s expendable? And, yes I realize that it’s early and we can’t read too much into 3 preseason games.

          • This year no. But, if the Rangers are out of contention come the trade deadline, he will be gone. $5 mil cap hit is rough, but he only makes $4 mil this year and $3 mil next.

            He becomes very expendable come next June though.

  • I dont know why everyone is so high on Kennedy. All I saw when watching him was a little guy getting knocked around and not doing much else. I was not impressed at all. He certianly has the work ethic… but we already have enough players that will work hard eating up 3rd/4th line minutes.

    Also not impressed with Christensen this preseason, which sucks because I really thought he’d come out really strong. Instead, hes been exactly what he was last year; Flashes of greatness followed by long periods of nothing.

    • thank god somebody else who is down on christensen hes not that good and very do better giving the spot to stepan he would at least match what christensen could do.

      • Exactly the point of my Twitter rant a few days ago. I don’t think Stepan is quite ready (no need to rush him), as the Wings really shut him down. I would give the top line center job to Dubi or AA for now, with the goal being Stepan in the future.

    • I’d rather watch a guy like Kennedy who works hard and is a good skater although he’s small then a guy like Boyle who gets by on his size. However, I was very impressed with Boyle’s first game and if he plays like he did last Thursday thru the rest of preseason I think he makes the team.

      The more I think about it I want to see Dubi or AA get the playing time on our top line – I think Stepan gets sent to Hartford to get top line/PP minutes every game until he “forces” the Rangers to bring him up with his play. What does playing White, Prospal or Fedotenko on the top two lines do for the Rangers long Term? Not much. Dubi, AA, Gabby, Frolov, Cally and EC should round out the top 6.

      • Agree excpt for EC. But my thoughts on EC are well documented.

        I think Stepan goes back to Hartford once Drury is healed, which will be good for him because he can get his top line, top PP, and top PK minutes while beginning to mesh with Grachev and MZA.

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