After a subpar offseason in which the Rangers appeared to focus more on the expansion draft than anything else, the roster plans are starting to become clearer. Even if the Rangers find a trade partner for Ryan Strome, they will return largely the same roster as last season. The roster holes heading into the offseason are still there. However there are roster spots that appear to be open for the taking by some NY Rangers youth.
Heading into the offseason, 2C was a major need. The Rangers were not committed to Strome long term. They were also unsure if FIlip Chytil would be able to handle the 2C role. With no significant moves to address this issue, it looks like the 2C role is Chytil’s to lose. This, of course, assumes the Rangers part ways with Strome.
The numbers suggest that Chytil will be able to handle the role. This holds especially true if he’s with Artemi Panarin. It also looks like Kaapo Kakko will at least get the first look as the 2RW. He had a strong three game playoffs, and it looks like he will be fine in that role.
As for 3C and 4C, both spots appear to be a full blown competition. Brett Howden, Morgan Barron, Patrick Khodorenko, and Kevin Rooney appear to be the front runners for these roles. Without Strome or any additional moves, the 3C role looks like it will be Howden’s, but don’t sleep on Barron or Khodorenko. Khodorenko hasn’t been getting the hype that Barron has, but he could surprise folks.
The guys we know will be there are Tony DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and Ryan Lindgren. As of now, Anthony Bittetto, Brendan Smith, and Jack Johnson appear to be filling out the bottom part of the roster.
There’s a lot of offseason left, but the Rangers appear, at least on paper, to be looking at K’Andre Miller and Tarmo Reunanen to make a serious run at the NHL level this year. David Quinn has said that Jack Johnson will sit if the kids outperform him. That remains to be seen, but it looks like those two have the “inside track” of the kids on the blue line.
But don’t sleep on Yegor Rykov, who is playing very well in the KHL after a rough year of injuries last season. A fully confident Rykov could make a run as well. Libor Hajek’s name is in there as well, but he appears to be falling down the depth chart fast.
The Bottom Six
In addition to the center mentioned above, Vitali Kravtsov, Justin Richards, and Austin Rueschhoff are in the mix when training camp rolls around. There are going to be others that surprise as well.
Youth appears to be the name of the game for the NY Rangers next season. Whether or not that was the plan from the start, we don’t know. The flat cap likely had an impact here, but perhaps this is a positive. The Rangers have some backup plans, but it looks like, at least from my optimistic outlook, the kids are going to get their chance