A look at the kids who are competing for a roster spot

lias andersson

With the Rangers retooling at defense and making blockbuster trades at forward, much of the attention has been spent on figuring out how the club will round out the roster via trade. One area that seems to be lacking in conversation is the kids that might fill out the roster. From first round picks to trade acquisitions to kids on the cusp, the Rangers have a bunch of options at all positions to try to fill out a potential Cup winning roster.

Lias Andersson

Starting with the obvious, it appears that Andersson will be given every chance to succeed in New York next year. He’s already succeeded in Sweden’s top league, and by all accounts he might actually be NHL ready as an 18-year-old. He projects to be a middle-six forward, which is exactly where the Rangers need help. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Filip Chytil

Chytil probably has an outside shot of making the team, as he is certainly more skilled than any other kid that is competing for a spot. And yes, that includes Andersson. With Chytil, it’s more about maturity and need to fine-tune his game. After all, he’s just 17 years old. He might fit in as a sheltered third liner with heavy offensive zone starts. And look at that, there’s more than one middle-six spot open.

Boo Nieves

Penciled in by basically everyone to be the 4C, Nieves is a bit of a mystery. It’s really tough to judge a kid based on last year’s performance with Hartford. That team was a train wreck on the ice and in the locker room. That’s why most of the roster is gone. I don’t have much of a gauge on Nieves, but most prospect folks think he needs another year.

Alexei Bereglazov

The Russian defenseman has a KHL-out clause in his deal. This leads most people, including me, to think he makes the roster as at least a 7D. There’s a logjam, but that usually works itself out. Bereglazov is smooth skating, good with the puck, and makes smart, heady plays in his own end. He’s a big kid too. I’d expect him to be around in October.

Neal Pionk

By most accounts, Pionk is NHL ready. Whether or not he wins a spot is another story altogether. The aforementioned logjam impacts Pionk the most, as he’s the only kid of the three (Bereglazov, Anthony DeAngelo) without NHL experience or an out-clause. Still, there are no guarantees for DeAngelo. Pionk is on the outside looking in, but a bad camp by DeAngelo opens the door for Pionk.

Ryan Graves

Graves has been an afterthought this summer. He has made tremendous strides and appears to be at the cusp. That said, the 22-year-old has an uphill climb. The logjam impacts Graves just as much as Pionk, but no one is talking about Graves being NHL ready. In terms of the depth chart, he’s the 10D, which is pretty odd. Of course, he’d be the 8D if the Rangers jettison some dead weight on the blue line.

Of all the kids, I think it’s Andersson and Bereglazov (and I guess DeAngelo, but I didn’t include him here) that make the club out of camp. Bereglazov appears to be a shoo-in because of his clause, but Andersson is a bit of a bold prediction.

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  • In my humble opinion:

    Andersson – Hartford, he needs North American ice time

    Chytil – Czech league, Hartford next year

    Nieves – Not an NHLer no matter how much Ranger fans think he is

    Bereglazov – Will make the team because he has an option to go back to Russia if he doesn’t make the Rangers. Rangers won’t let that happen.

    Pionk – NHL ready, will make the big club.

    Graves – Odd man out and is now a trade chip. Another one of the coach’s “non-faves.”

    • If they trade for another center then Anderson absolutely starts in Hartford.

      It would be great for the kid to make the club but I’ll be honest. I will be VERY underwhelmed if they start the season with Desharnais and Anderson as the 3c and 4c.

        • Please,

          How far in the playoffs does a team with Zib, Hayes, Desharnais, and Anderson down the middle get?

          • I don’t know, but neither do you. I remember a couple of years ago everyone screaming to stop trading picks for older vets. “play the kids ” and see how they perform was the mantra. Well, here we are, let’s do this. Maybe there is lightning in a bottle or two. If that becomes the case, we are set for years!

          • Hayes had 49 points last year, Zib would’ve had 50 in a full season (and has already hit that mark in the past with Ottawa). I loved Stepan as a player but he’s replaceable. And everybody’s so down on Desharnais, if he stays healthy I think he’s still productive. Aside from his injuries, I’m not crazy about DD’s size, but he’s a slick passer who sees the ice well. I think he could surprise people this year and be a 35-40 point player if healthy.

          • Hasn’t management been saying Miller will be ‘tried’ at center?
            If so, there is your guaranteed 50 point center, unless he gets PP time which will push the numbers up even higher.’
            And with a healthy zib and a healthy hayes each playing close to 80 games, both should eclipse the 50 point mark.
            And is peumpel still in their plans?

          • Miller is a guaranteed 50 point center?

            Where do we make up those guaranteed points on the wing?

            There are way too many “ifs” involved here. And if all these ifs workout this team is still weaker down the middle than last year and last year they weren’t that great. And that’s not an I love Stepan arguement. It’s a fact this team will be weaker down the middle as currently constructed.

          • Sorry but Spozo is spot on here…

            Barring unforeseen miracles with some prospects, this team is irrefutably weaker at center.

            I was not his biggest fan either, but…. we traded a ‘1C’ for no 1C & some prospects.

            Like it or not, Daisy controlled the opposition’s top scorers, and the team outscored the opposition 3 – 2 at 5’s with him on the ice.

            We have not replaced that.

            Mind you, I’m not too concerned about DD as 3c. Sub optimal, but I think there’s a good chance he’ll bounce back and play well enough.

      • Yeah I agree Spozo. The Bozak rumors were hot and heavy and have since cooled. I have read that Babcock is not thrilled with moving Nylander to center if Bozak is traded, so maybe that’s the hold up.

        • I’m a little puzzled here, why would you move a #1 center and replace him with a 2nd year player? It doesn’t make sense to Me. Maybe Bozak is not as good as we think he is?

          • I guess that’s why Bozak hasn’t been moved yet. But I will say that Nylander is a star in the making, if you were commenting on the Leafs’ side of this.

    • Nieves is going to be on the team to start the season for a few reasons. 1. 1. If Fast doesn’t get magically better by September then Boo will have a chance to impress and take what’s his.
      2. Maybe he takes a wingers spot with still good enough faceoff ability to show AV that he’s diverse he could be useful while Fast is out.
      3. I could see a 4th line of Grabner with Andersson and this kid who might have his game on another level with all that speed and potential coming from his linemates.

      You have to be really bold about your thinking if you assume that Boo can’t at least take advantage of a regular who will be out until November.

      • “You have to be really bold about your thinking if you assume that Boo can’t at least take advantage of a regular who will be out until November”


        Errr…. again, what has boo done down there to suggest he’s ready for the NHL? Other than being picked in the 2nd round, what about his play/numbers screams ‘gotta have him on the team’ this season?

        Would he be a better 4c than, say, Winnik for example?

        Has he done anything other than get hurt in the minors?

        I don’t understand the optimism, but I also don’t see Hartford play too often.

        Did I miss something here…. ?

        • First off don’t ask me questions like would he be better than a NHL ready player that the NYR’s don’t even own yet. You’re trying to sell these idea’s to the wrong person. Go call JG cell if you get that irritated by a fan expressing that anyone is fair game to make the 4th line this camp. All I was trying to say was that if Boo impressed enough coaches then he could very well make the team especially with Fast out. I added that his versatility could jump out to have him make up a 4th line with Grabner and Andersson. It might be a temporary due to luck and advantage of personnel due to playing next to someone like Grabner. I still think at the end of the day he’ll be on the team just like Pirri was last year. If he gets that far then he’ll really have a chance to be a regular and maybe even make Grabner expandable in the long run. Guys in the AHL just sometimes need a break to get into the league and I think Boo on a deep team like the NYR needs that. His size, speed and a defensive role might be that special place for him to put his game together with in order to be a NHL pro.

          • “First off don’t ask me questions like would he be better than a NHL ready player that the NYR’s don’t even own yet. You’re trying to sell these idea’s to the wrong person. Go call JG cell if you get that irritated by a fan expressing that anyone is fair game to make the 4th line this camp”


            All I asked was whether or not he has done anything since being drafted to warrant any consideration for the majors whatsoever.
            If you don’t like people asking for the reasoning behind your hot takes, then I don’t know what to say to you…

            “I still think at the end of the day he’ll be on the team just like Pirri was last year. If he gets that far then he’ll really have a chance to be a regular and maybe even make Grabner expandable in the long run.”


            But why?

            Any particular reasoning behind that hot take err I mean logic (other than ‘he needs a break’)?

            You know, as I said before, perhaps you’ve seen him do something [to suggest he has a snowball’s chance in hell of contributing at the NHL level] that I haven’t?

            Was that really such a terrible thing for me to ask?

      • I saw Boo at Michigan, one game live at the Garden. I was not impressed at all quite honestly. He may very well make the Rangers but that doesn’t mean that that would be a good thing.

    • Pretty much agree with your player assessment Richter with the exception of Pionk. How do you consider a player who hasn’t even played one game in the bigs as NHL ready.

      • After some additional reading yesterday, I think that Pionk may be another odd guy out, meaning he goes to Hartford. Depends on whether Staal or Holden or both are here.

        I would say that DeAngelo and Bereglazov should have spots as the 6th and 7th Ds.

  • Typical Ranger Fan:

    June – “Stepan sucks! He needs to be traded!!”
    July – “Gorton didn’t get enough for Stepan! He’s worth way more than that!!”
    August – “Gorton better do something! This team has no center depth!!”

    It never fails.

  • has anybody considered the possibility of moving deangelo to wing ….
    or at least play 7 d-men – and use him in offensive situations … ie power play, offensive starts, esp. after other team has iced the puck

    wouldn’t be first d-men to be used on the wing ….

    what do you do with a d-man with very gifted offensive talent, but with limited d ability …. slowly improve his d ability, but use his offensive talents

    • He wouldn’t be the first….. he’d be the third. Burns and Byfuglien being the other two. It doesn’t happen often at the NHL level and the two times it has worked elite level skill seems to have had a lot to do with it.

    • So far in there short careers, Andersson and DeAngelo have shown rather divergent characteristics.

      Andersson seems to be quite mature, poised and disciplined while DeAngelo has been immature and undisciplined. While Andersson might not have elite skills, he is apparently very solid in all aspects of the game. He at least has a shot at sticking with the big club because he is a solid two-way player and solid physically.

      DeAngelo may have close to elite offensive skills. The Rangers believe they can mold his behavior after researching him thoroughly. He can motor and bring the puck up the ice with speed, can pass, has a nose for the net and a good shot. If they decided to make him a winger it might pan out, but he’d probably need time in Hartford to get in sync with the position. On the other hand, his skills in lugging, passing and shooting the puck seem to be what they need in a defenseman and on the power play. I think they will keep him on defense. The question is whether they will keep both Holden and Staal around. If they do, then do they send DeAngelo to Hartford or is he 7D? Might be better to send him to Hartford instead of spending press box time.

  • Andersson has stated that his goal is to make the big club. Gorton and AV have both said he will be given the opportunity to make it. It is possible that he ends up in Hartford so that he gets a little more development time, but I wouldn’t bet against him yet. He’s a rather mature and determined kid.

  • i’m all for getting the kids involved !!!! especially when the dead weight is dead weight. i know seasoning is good but when you outplay another in camp YOU win the job !!!! if hayes, miller or whom ever can’t handle the task, play those who are putting out the effort. the one thing is that if too many kids make the team out of camp you will need an enforcer type player. i stilll think that mcilrath is a viable option as PART TIME D-man or even wing if available, they didn’t bring him through the system properly.

  • Anthony DeAngelo
    Nick Holden
    Ryan McDonagh
    Kevin Shattenkirk
    Brady Skjei
    Brendan Smith
    Marc Staal

    This is already seven guys. How does Bereglazov or Pionk fit into this? Doesn’t appear that GMJG is going to be able to move Holden. Seems like Pionk, without question, plays in Hartford. Obviously, for Bereglazov to have signed, GMJG must’ve offered him an NHL spot, but that out-clause doesn’t seem to suggest he believes that.

    • Barring injuries and trades before the season starts – DeAngelo starts the year in Hartford, Bereglazov takes his spot on the roster. Holden is showcased at the start of the season, hopefully plays well and is possibly traded allowing DeAngelo or Pionk come up. Staal maybe dials the clock back and plays well enough during the year to get traded at the deadline or gets bought out next year.

  • Andersson-Will have to kill it in camp to make roster, but they’re going to give him that chance. Has looked good at WJSS, but not head and shoulders above crowd.

    Chytil – saw photos in street clothes, needs 10lbs of muscle to compete.

    Nieves –has it all except hands of stone and an eggshell brain. Another year and he’s an untendered FA.

    Bereglazov – will start the season in NY, but after Fast returns it gets complicated. Will make more in Hartford on a one way than in KHL unless parachutes into SKA. Having him for a month, then coming back after Olympics/trade deadline might be best of all worlds.

    Pionk – Probably a righty John Gilmour who likes to hit, but looking forward to seeing him in Traverse City.

    Graves – He’s a 3rd pair who has a hammer of a shot. Probable trade bait as a makeweight, but D market is flooded right now.

  • The Rangers haven’t won the prize since ’94, they are clearly doing things differently than ever before, at least in my history, and for me, that’s exciting and I will give them a chance. I do believe the Rangers scouting staff, GM, and Coaches know more about evaluating players than anyone here, myself included. You just never know what a kid with talent can do….let’s find out!

    • I have been a baseball fan (Yankees since Mantle & Maris chased Ruth when I was 7 years old), and a Rangers hockey fan since the days of Ratelle Hadfiekd and Rod Gilbert. When the Yanks finally went back to bringing up kids last year like they did in the early 90’s while The Boss was suspended, I was ecstatic. How frustrating is it when a team tries to squeeze a few more wins out of a team staffed with passed their prime stars instead of developing young people for the future?

      Gorton appears to be restocking the Rangers on the fly with kids. He isn’t hiring oldsters. Except for Lindy Ruff. I am hopeful that he might do something to make his 3rd pair defensemen a couple of kids, or at least puts one of the kids on it, and that he gives JT a shot at center. Yeah it is rolling the dice for the upcoming season, but makes a lot of sense for the team’s future.

  • very good overall

    Gorton is smart enough to know he has to give Graves a chance to at least see what he’s got before he is cast aside.

    Holden will be gone
    Staal should have been bought out w/G, whose NMC now changed July 1, traded instead
    Still, good chance Staal goes, not in a hockey deal, but in a $$ deal
    However, we need spots for these guys.
    If you have to move Staal to 4LW for min games and not play him the rest, you do it

    McD – if a huge profit for a younger guy happens, that also is smart

    finally, Boo
    book it Dave, he makes the club

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