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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.