Vitali Kravtsov in the Rangers top 6? It could happen.

The Rangers have one preseason game left before they need to set their roster to the 20-23 players that will make the cut after camp. While most of the roster is pretty much set, there are spots in the top-nine, fourth line, and bottom-three that will require difficult decisions. We touched on he decisions needed, but perhaps we are looking at this wrong.

If we are looking at opening night as October 3rd, then the Rangers have just three games in 14 days. Not exactly a whirlwind of activity.  Meanwhile the Hartford Wolf Pack have four games during that span, although two do overlap with NHL games. So it’s not as simple as just keeping some kids down in Hartford to get extra work, since it’s just one extra game.

Another aspect here is cap space, which is perhaps more important than the extra playing time. The Rangers are right up against the cap, and even waiving Brendan Smith doesn’t save that much space because the Blueshirts would still need to add Ryan Lindgren to the roster, so the true cap savings comes from yo-yoing players to the AHL to get them off the cap.

The go to for this, HockeyStateMiner, illustrated how the Rangers can maneuver around the cap to gain about $200k in cap space by fidgeting with the roster and providing team busing for the kids to go back and forth. It may not seem like much, but it does give the Rangers wiggle room at the deadline to take on a higher priced contract, which applies regardless if they are buying or selling.

There’s the extra game, the extra development time, and the extra cap space. All three will play a role in how the Rangers navigate the first three weeks of the season. After all, opening night may be on October 3, but the season doesn’t truly begin until October 17. That matters.

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