The opening night lineup will not be the lineup used every night

With the final cuts announced and the opening night roster solidified, we’ve done our best here to curb both expectations and disappointments. The opening schedule, where the Rangers play just 3 games in the first 14 days, had an impact both on roster construction and the cap. Reading into the lines lately, we knew there was a chance that Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov, and Brett Howden start the year in Hartford (two of them are).

Even without salary cap maneuvering, there is one important factor that is often overlooked by beats, bloggers, casual fans, and everyone in between. Just like your fantasy hockey roster, the Rangers lineup on opening night will not be the same lineup in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. But don’t worry, the Rangers will still be there for you.

Pause for laughs.

We are going to see changes in the lineup, regardless of who dresses on October 3. Injuries happen. Trades happen. Games go to hell. Someone winds up with the mumps or mono or gets a lingering left buttocks injury. The lineup is fluid.

Places in the lineup are fluid as well. Ryan Strome is beginning the season as the 2C, but if he finishes the season as the 2C (barring injury), I’ll eat my hat*. And if he does, then something has gone horribly wrong in the development of Chytil, Howden, and/or Andersson.

* Disclaimer: I don’t actually own a hat.

Chris Kreider’s future with the Rangers is still up in the air. Vlad Namestnikov is probably not long for a Rangers sweater. Tony DeAngelo has a complicated future and may not even be a Ranger by the end of the season. That’s two top-nine forwards and a top-four defenseman who might need replacing during the season.

So now that the roster for opening night is released, let’s all remember this. Everything is fluid. But since we are human, let’s set an agreed upon timeframe for hot takes, over reactions, and world is ending tweets. Does 24 hours sound good? Good.

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  • I believe your thoughts are very true. I would expect the Oct. 3rd lineup to differ from the November 2nd lineup. There are 10 games between those 2 dates. More than enough time for things to happen on both the big club and the Hartford club. Injuries and fabulous play by someone in the AHL may force the hands of the GM. The team might go 10-0, making changes unnecessary, but I highly doubt that. We may go 3 – 7, making a move more than necessary. Either way. I suspect the goal of the current roster is to show the team who is boss and what kind of effort is required.

    • As the Rangers are rebuilding, a 3-7 start does not necessitate any moves. Moves might be appropriate, but perhaps it is just a message that winning is still in the future, not the present, and that development is what matters.

    • Ranger fans have to admit that Chytil (the best of the three), Howden (hit the proverbial wall) and Anderson (never really given a chance by Quinn) were rushed into the starting lineup last year. They need to develop at their own pace.

  • I think Strome has a better chance of enduring than you think, though I would agree that it is less than 50/50. I don’t see him being pushed out by Howden or Andersson, likely bottom six forwards though hopefully good ones. Nor does it seem likely that the rebuilding Rangers will trade for a center. When Kravtsov gets called up, they might reshuffle to get him in the top six, but I think it more likely they will use him to create a more impactful third line, at least at first.

    Obviously the hope is that Chityl takes the job away from Strome and that may happen, but if it doesn’t, it is just a disappointing trajectory for one player not three. [And in the end, we may see a high scoring third line with Namestnikov centering Kravtsov and Chityl.]

  • I am not concerned at all, Kravtsov is going to be solid, why rush him when we can help him grow the way others have by going down to play and gain strength….

    Chytil, this is your alarm clock calling… we have other prospects (cough cough Andersson) who went out and gotten a little eye of the tiger going… WAKE UP BUDDY!

    Trades happen too.

    I like that the big club didn’t rush this year right out of camp….

    I hope they both kick butt, and come back rocking!


  • Kravstov is going to be really good. He just needs to get stronger and more comfortable with the NHL game. Let Chytil play as the #1 center and get a ton of minutes—grow him into that center position. He could be really good too. Would be cool to see the two build confidence, strength and ability down in Hartford and return to the NHL as two thirds of a solid scoring line.

  • I hope they play Chytil in the middle down there and give him a chance at his natural position. That’s probably the most important. There’s been immense pressure on him since his first camp, and they jerked him around the lineup last year. The make so much of d-men playing the left or right side, and the fwds are just supposed to flip from center to wing w/o any issues. Those positions are VERY different from each other.

    Don’t rush him back, and give him the time to get comfortable back at center. Let him…you know…develop.

  • Haley and McKegg in right? McKegg outplayed a lot of guys as did Haley . Chytil is going right where he should be. Howden at 2nd C…. eesh. I hope he really steps up his game.

    Anyone else notice a lot of Averyisms in lemieuxs b.s.? Except he might be less effective and definitely doesn’t have the same courage either.. he looked SHOOK when Martin, Johnston, and the other isles were coming for him. I’ve seen that look on teammates/ opponents faces all through growing up and it’s FEAR. They’ll fight right around their weight but want no part of the heavy hitters.

  • I thought Lemieux looked good. I doubt Haley will be with the big club all year. I guess we’ll see. I hope they use Howden on the 4th line–at least until/if Andersson falters and/or Howden explodes. From what I saw in the preseason–Andersson was much more reliable, consistent and just plain better than Howden. If that changes–DQ can swap’em then. IMHO.

  • My issue with these moves is that Kravs earned his spot … and for the first two weeks at least I think Kravs would have benefited more from the 3 games and 2 weeks of NHL practice than 4 games in Hartford plus practices.

  • I don’t know why Strome gets so much hate (or maybe just a lack of love). I get that his SH% was abnormally high last year and not sustainable. But the kid was a 5th overall pick and is only 26 years old. I think he is a responsible player with upside which is why he gets the first crack at 2C. Give him some beast wingers like Kakko and Kreider and all of the sudden he is in the best position to succeed he has ever been in his young career.

  • There’s maybe 6 teams that can take on Namestnikov’s contract easily and 2 are in the division. Until teams start banking cap credits and Namestnikov earns some salary to lessen the hit, the only way he’s getting dealt before the All-Star break is as an LTIR replacement.

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