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
– It’s very interesting that Fast made the team over Hrivik. Hrivik is NHL-ready in my mind, but Alain Vigneault’s decision to keep Fast indicates to me that he covets Fast’s speed and probably expects that Fast will succeed in a more offensive role, while Hrivik is better suited for a bottom-six position, where the Rangers are already stocked.
– Thankfully, the Blueshirts made the right decision to send Allen to the Wolfpack for regular playing time rather than have him sit in the press box. Based on performance alone, Allen should have been the club’s seventh D-man. But it makes no sense for the first-year pro to sit, rather than gain valuable playing time. Just because Falk is the team’s seventh D-man in name right now doesn’t mean he’ll actually be the guy to fill-in if one of the Blueshirts’ top-six rearguard goes down.
– It may infuriate some, but sending down Kreider was the right decision. He was outplayed by several of the Rangers’ other rookies and still clearly isn’t ready. Is Kreider a bust? No, it’s still way too early to say that. But he’s certainly falling behind and needs to turn his game around in a hurry.
– It looks like New York will have no choice but to shift one of its centers to wing. The prime candidates are Richards and Boyle. Here are two opening night line scenarios that make some sense:
Pyatt/Moore/Dorsett or Asham
Pyatt/Moore/Dorsett or Asham
I think it’s a no-brainer to keep the Pouliot/Brassard/Zuccarello line together – that’s the one trio that demonstrated instant chemistry this preseason. Zuccarello and Brassard had success together last year and Pouliot seems like the perfect complement. The four rotating fourth liners seem etched in stone, so it’s just a matter of figuring out who would fit best with Stepan and Nash (Fast would bring the speed element to that line that Hagelin did last year, while Richards could be the choice if A.V. wants to stack his top trio offensively). Miller could also end up with Stepan and Nash.
– Callahan should be ready to go soon, but it seems likely that Hagelin will end up on LTIR.
– Powe was tremendous during the preseason – it stands to reason that he could be claimed off waivers. New York could use him as an ace penalty killer at some point, but the Blueshirts have plenty of other bottom-line options.
– Doesn’t it seem like ages ago that we were wondering if Johan Hedberg would be Lundqvist’s backup?