Training Camp Is Here.  Training camp starts today and day 1 is the day that all the players fear the most. As some of the beat writers have already discussed, day one is basically ‘The Test’. It’s where Coach Tortorella runs his players in to the ground. Torts’ camps are legendary and it all begins with the first day. That said, training camp is about so much more for the team than just fitness. Here are a few things that are worth monitoring going through camp.

How many rookies will force their way on to the roster?

The Rangers camp will be different this year because of the European trip.  It affects how many players the Rangers take to Europe with them and could influence how many rookies/prospects have a legitimate chance to make the team from the outset. Tim Erixon seems to have a spot to lose; he’d have to be seriously outplayed by at least 2 players or show that he isn’t physically ready for a Torts camp.

Carl Hagelin has a legitimate chance to make his Rangers debut in his homeland too. He showed skill and great speed in Traverse but his immediate future may be tied to the upcoming camp performances of Christensen and Avery.

The dark horse, which I have maintained all along, is Ryan Bourque. Bourque remained relatively healthy last season and followed up that with a good, if not great Traverse City tourney. He displayed speed and a lot of skill to go with his undoubted team first attitude and terrific work ethic. He seems an ideal option if the Rangers insist on going younger in the bottom 6.

Beyond the Swedes and the Hall of Famer’s son, it would take a remarkable training camp for another rookie to force his way on to the plane to Sweden. The Rangers have a ton of depth but not a lot of vacancies (despite a lot of talent developing in the system) so aren’t likely to rush any prospects unless their play demands promotion.

Join us after the jump for plenty more camp questions.

Does Dale Weise Have a Future?

Dale Weise had an underwhelming 2010-11 season. With so many forwards developing in the Rangers system Weise’s average year saw him go from solid prospect to a player whose future with the franchise is at risk. Making little impact in ten games with the Rangers, Weise didn’t fare much better in the AHL going -14 in 47 games despite 38 points. Where does he fit? He needs a great camp to make sure the decision makers in New York don’t forget about him.

Which Wojtek Wolski Will We Witness?

Say that drunk. In all seriousness though, will we see a motivated, ready-to-compete Wolski or the talented player that drifts through games? If we see the former then this year’s Rangers squad promises to be even deeper and more dangerous but if we see the latter then a) Wolski’s career is in doubt and b) the Rangers have a hole to fill. Wolski could provide so much for the Rangers if he can find the form he showed during the 2009-10 season.

How Will Marian Gaborik fare in Camp?

The hockey off-season has been full of tragedy. Several players’ deaths as well as the tragic plane crash in Russia have robbed the hockey world of many good and talented people. Marian Gaborik has lost two very close friends through the many tragedies. With the passing of Derek Boogaard and the sudden loss of Pavel Demitra, Gaborik will have had an emotional rollercoaster this summer. What frame of mind is the skilled forward in? Will he be ready to try and mesh with Brad Richards? Will he be able to rebound from a poor 2010-11 season? Gaborik has a lot of question marks surrounding him this season.

How Do the Rangers Approach the Pre-Season schedule?

It may be lost amid many other topics heading in to camp but the Rangers may be forced to dress a more senior roster than they’d like in the early pre-season games. Or alternatively we may see a remarkably young and inexperienced squad hit the ice before the roster is slimmed down for Europe. The Rangers won’t be able to ease the senior players in to the line-up like teams do during a ‘normal’ pre-season. The Euro trip may seriously affect the decision making process of many aspects of camp.

Powerplay, powerplay, powerplay?

The Rangers had a distinctly average powerplay last year and that will have played a part in the summer acquisitions of Richards and Erixon as well as influence how they handle Del Zotto this season. The powerplay may also be affected by the Euro trip: for example how much can they practice the PP? How much attention will Tortorella, Sullivan and co. give the powerplay in camp and which players will make up the two units? Will Erixon (assuming he does indeed make the team) immediately get PP time and who will partner Richards on the points for the first unit? The powerplay figures to be a hot topic pre-season.


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