With Martin St. Louis out 10-14 days with a knee injury, the New York Rangers find themselves needing to weather the storm while he heals. We can debate the argument over whether St. Louis needed the rest or not, but the point remains that the Rangers will need to find a way to deal with a top-six forward out of the lineup for 4-6 games.
The Rangers are not expected to make a call up, at least right away, while St. Louis is out. This makes relative sense, as the Rangers have a limited number of call ups until rosters expand for the playoffs. That said, this also means the return of Tanner Glass to the lineup. That’s not exactly ideal.
Since the Rangers are not making any roster moves right away, there are a few options for them to choose.
Move J.T. Miller or Kevin Hayes to 2RW
This is the most likely move for the Rangers to make. Both are skilled and can put the puck in the net. Both are good along the boards. Both are former first round picks that would benefit from playing with Derek Stepan. Both are solid possession players that the second line needs. However, Hayes is much better defensively, something else that the second line needs. Both can play RW as well.
Since moving one of Miller or Hayes to 2RW is the likely scenario, we have a few options for dealing with the third line. My gut says they want to keep Hayes at center though.
Move Jesper Fast to 3RW or James Sheppard to 3C
Naturally this is dependent on which move is made to fill St. Louis’ hole at 2RW. If it’s Miller that moves up, then it’s more likely that Fast moves to the third line to fill the RW spot. If it’s Hayes, then expect Sheppard to fill his natural position at center on the third line. Since my gut says the Rangers keep Hayes at center, I think it’s more likely we see Fast move up to play with Hayes and Carl Hagelin on the third line.
Welcome back Tanner Glass
With no call ups coming. This was inevitable.
The Rangers –at the moment– are not making roster moves, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t if the initial fixes don’t pan out. If they are looking for a fourth line fix, then I’d expect Oscar Lindberg to get the call. If they are looking for someone to fill a scoring role, then Chris Bourque is likely to get that call. I don’t think Danny Kristo is a realistic option for the scoring role, otherwise we would’ve seen him at some point in the past two seasons.
Luckily for the Rangers, they won’t be without St. Louis for long. Unfortunately, they are going to be without him, Kevin Klein, and Henrik Lundqvist for a very difficult portion of the schedule that has them up against Chicago, Anaheim, LA, Boston, Washington, and Winnipeg in six of the eight remaining games this month. The storm can be weathered, but it will require more players to step up.