The Rangers made their first round of cuts four days ago, again while we were still down, slicing the roster by seven players. Four of the cuts were not surprising. Three were, not because they got cut, but because of how soon they were cut.
1. The big surprises were Gropp, Ronning, and Meskanen being cut so early. All three were, at some point, pegged as potential bottom-six forwards for the Rangers at some point. Of course, that assumed their development panned out. It is disappointing to see them as the first round of cuts.
2. Gropp, infamous for being a primary piece of the Carl Hagelin trade when the Rangers famously passed on Daniel Sprong, was always seen as a project pick. The former 2nd round pick is yet to even get a sniff of the NHL. he even had a stint in the ECHL last season. At 23 years old and on the final year of his ELC, it makes you wonder if he’s playing for his Rangers, or hockey, career.
3. Meskanen, an undrafted free agent from last year, had a solid year in Hartford. Pegged by many as one of the potential call ups last year, it never came to be. Players like Tim Gettinger and Steven Fogerty got call ups before Meskanen. Like Gropp, Meskanen is also 23 years old and on the final year of his ELC. He does have the benefit of being the 5th highest scorer on last year’s train wreck Wolf Pack. That might give him a leg up on Gropp.
4. Ronning was a 7th rounder three years ago, and was viewed as a possible sleeper pick. But then he didn’t even make Hartford out of camp last year, being sent to Maine in the ECHL as frustrations turned into possible attitude problems. He’s only 21 years old though, and he does have another year after this on his ELC. I don’t think he’s playing for his Rangers career, but it is certainly a big year for him.
5. McCollum and Brassard were both on AHL deals, so seeing them sent down early was no surprise.
6. Gross and Skinner were always destined to be returned to Juniors. Expect others to follow sooner rather than later.