Mailbag: Predicting the opening night lineup

Only one question for the mailbag this week, but it’s a long one. As always, use the widget on the right to submit your questions to be added to this piece.

Jared asks: What do you think the Rangersopening night lineup will look like?

This is a tough question to answer since the roster is relatively incomplete right now. The Rangers are over the cap ceiling, assuming they sign their four key RFAs to about $14 million:

  • Jacob Trouba – $7.5 million
  • Pavel Buchnevich – $3.2 million
  • Tony DeAngelo – $2.5 million
  • Brendan Lemieux – $1.5 million

That means something needs to happen. Let’s assume Matt Beleskey and Brendan Smith don’t get traded but are in the AHL. Jeff Gorton is also on record saying they expect Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, and Brett Howden to fill in the depth down the middle:

While we aren’t surprised by this, it does notably leave out Ryan Strome as a potential center. That’s important to note, especially if you think that one of those kids has a future on the wing, not at center. That would shift these kids up a line, but then you have the issue of the 4C, which is not what Strome’s future with this club is. Perhaps I’m overly analyzing this. But I thought it was interesting that Strome wasn’t mentioned as a center, which is what he played last season.

This probably doesn’t mean much, but it leads me to believe the Rangers are going to try to unload Strome and/or Vlad Namestnikov to free up the cap space, instead of Chris Kreider. Now of course that is easier said than done, since competing teams don’t really have much cap space to do a Jimmy Vesey-esque cap dump. Trading them both solves their issues for the most part. Let’s go with that, and that Kevin Shattenkirk gets dealt at 50%. I think that’s a fair assumption. Some roster player will come back, perhaps a LD or a spare forward.

So let’s go with this:

  • Forwards (13): Panarin, Zibanejad, Kreider, Fast, Kakko, Chytil, Anderson, Howden, Lemieux, Buchnevich, Kravtsov, Nieves, McKegg. Replace any of the last 3 with a forward acquired in one of those trades. Yes, I’m lumping in Kravtsov here because if he doesn’t make the top-nine, he’s not starting in the NHL.
  • Defense (7): Staal, Trouba, Skjei, Fox, Hajek, DeAngelo, 7D back in trade?
  • Goalie (2): Hank, Georgiev

That’s what I have pegged right now, but of course that can change if the Blueshirts get bowled over with an offer for Kreider, or they can’t seem to get to an agreement on an extension. He’s the true wild card, since he will either be in camp with an extension, or won’t be with the Rangers. It’s one or the other. The club won’t let this drag on during the season.

The roster listed above might surprise people and make the playoffs, but it’s a borderline one at best. But it’s still an exciting roster to watch, and one I’d be happy with.

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  • Over analyzing is the death of a journalist! Let’s remember what a certain GM said upon acquiring Ryan Strome – “The fact that he can play center, that he can play wing, that he can play on the power play, that he can kill penalties, he can take face-offs, I think he brings a little bit of everything,” Jeff Gorton…. Not to mention he has played wing in the NHL before which leads me to believe that he will be kept as a player who can play multiple positions and is insurance should one of the aforementioned centers don’t meet expectations. He’s also a right-handed shot on a left-handed heavy team which doesn’t hurt his chances.

    • No doubt. If he’s not traded he definitely has a role as a super utility player playing wing, center, up and down the lines, PP and PK.

  • Panarin Zib Kreider
    Buch Strome Kakko
    Krav Heatl Howden
    Lemieux Boo Fast

    Skjei Trouba
    Staal ADA
    Hajek Fox


        • Based on a 43 game career sample? Mikey, if we all made decision based on what you are doing it would be a total fail. No doubt Georgie was hot for us the end of the season, while Hank was playing on an evey other game schedule for the first time in his career.

          We are lucky to have the luxury of 2 young goalie prospects that are NHL ready in our pipeline, but to discount Hank based on a a shitty 1/2 season is not the road to take.

          • Hence I said right now…we shall see what happens…Henrik can’t play forever. Georgie was stopping 50 shots a night while Henrik was losing to Ottawa Detroit and NJ

  • They are in cap hell. Kreider is, in my opinion, someone they should strive to keep but it ain’t gonna be easy. Namestnikov is a nice player who would be marketable if he was cheaper. Perhaps they can retain some salary and trade him. Strome is useful and if they keep him around they can send Boo down or away and maybe Fast gets tradedand Beleskey and Smith too? Gorton has work to do!

    • Fasts makes too little right now to be traded and have any real effect on the cap. Strome or Namestnikov, Shattenkirk or Smith (would love to replace Smith with Staal, but we all know that isn’t going to happen. If they have to retain salary, then make it 3 of the above 4.

    • They are not in Cap Hell…far from it. They are a trade or single buyout away from being compliant. It may be tight this year, but that will only be until JG can find a taker for one of our higher priced players.

  • I see them signing Kreider for any number of reasons, but most of all his speed, and bulk. Having said this, I can see Name as being the odd forward out, will trade him even if they retain 50%. Of the defensmen going, Shatty, and possibly Smith, even though I’d like to see him be the 7th d-man.


    Smith as 7th d-man

    These lines would be balanced, scoring threat from the three top lines, and a decent shut down fourth that can add additional occasional scoring. I wouldn’t mind this line up at all!!!!!!!!

    • If they are able to keep Kreider–Strome and Names are both gone. Unfortunately (Unless Gort finds a GM with a serious meth problem) the best we can hope for is one of Staal, Smith or Shatty to be traded and even that is a tall order.

      One of Hajek or Rykov will make it–if either but not both. Although it would be great if they were both ready and in the line-up. I doubt Gettinger will ever be a regular on the Rangers but I love the idea of the Rangers having him/his size in the bottom 6. Edstrom too.



        • I don’t see him starting the season with the team due to the unwanted vets. Hope I am wrong. But I put Gettinger in just because and Fox has much greater chance of being in the line up–so why not? Good point, Mikey.

          • Haha…..His midas touch goes far….Henrik at age 32 a 7 year contract….Girardi at age 30 a 6 year contract…..buyouts all over the place

          • Gorton knew the score before he made his summer moves, he may be hampered by some previous deals but he’s in charge and the lack of cap space is on him — but it’s fine, no worries.

  • McKegg is a AAAA player with no soze, Fogarty is a AAAA with size and can skate and in a cheaper contract.

  • I don’t know, if I was Gm I would be in convos with a certain agent of a certain goalie that would let us trade him so we can keep our pieces.

  • Panarin-Zib-Kakko



  • Everyone seems to be playing “the Sky is Falling” over and over again. It is not falling and we have much less to worry about than people are making out to be.

    1) Whether CK resigns here or not…it will not affect his $4.625M cap hit for this season, an extension will start with the 2020/21 season. While it would be nice to get something done before the season starts so we dont go thru the same situation that we did with Zucc/Hayes last year, it is not the end of the world to wait if the FO believes a better CK offer will come closer to the trade deadline.
    2) As much as we have improved this year, we are not looking to make a run. We are looking to get the kids better experience and build towards something much greater and stronger in the longterm. If that means going with a 20 or 21 man roster to stay under the cap so be it. While it may be painful at times, we have enough young kids with the ability to move back and forth from the Pack to NY without being waiver eligible.

    If we sign (all AAV $) Trouba @ $7.5M, Buch @ $2.25M, DeAn @ $1.5M, & Lemieux @ $1.35M. We ship Belesky to Pack and Buyout Smith, we will be $300K UNDER the cap.

    We are fine right now, it will be tight but nothing to worry about in a year that we arent planning on reall ycompeteing in anyway…And If JG is able to find a taker for Names/Strome/Shatty/Smith over the next month even more to be excited about.

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