Rangers Trim Roster To 25

The Rangers said there would be big cuts after the game and there were as the team sent eight players to Hartford, cutting the roster to 25. (It was technically nine players as the mysterious Matt Lindblad finally disappeared from the list. Reportedly, he’s injured so I’m not even sure if he ever was in camp, or who he even is.)

As for the other cuts, the following players are headed to the Wolf Pack training camp, which starts today:

Forwards: Luke Adam, Ryan Bourque, and Brian Gibbons

Defense: Mat Bodie, Ryan Graves, Brady Skjei, and Chris Summers

Goaltender: Magnus Hellberg

The one I feel bad for is Mat Bodie. He did enough to earn a spot, there just wasn’t a spot there for him. But if the Rangers need someone during the season, I am sure he’ll be towards the top of the call-up list. I am not surprised Brady Skjei was sent down. Is he close? Yes, he’s closer than I expected him to be from what I heard. But there was no way he was starting the season as the 7th or 8th defenseman in New York. Assuming no major injuries, come January the Rangers will trade a veteran defenseman (probably Kevin Klein) and Skjei will be back. It’s exactly what happened six seasons ago with some guy named Ryan McDonagh.

As for backup goaltender, the spot was always Antti Raanta’s to lose and he did nothing to lose it. But it’s good to know if there is an injury or if Raanta falters, that Magnus Hellberg is more than a capable backup.

So who does that leave in camp?

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello

Defenseman: Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle

Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

Obviously they are all set in net. They would like to be all set on defense as there are eight defensemen remaining but unfortunately due to cap, they may only be able to keep seven. The assumption is that battle is between Raphael Diaz and Dylan McIlrath. Honestly, to me, they both deserve to stay so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers tried to find a way to keep eight. I’m just not sure they will be able to. And in that case, I won’t begin to guess which one goes.

Up front is where it gets interesting. There are currently 15 forwards remaining in camp. The Rangers have said they will carry 13. (That is partially cap related and partially Vigneault only wanting one extra forward.) I think we can all agree Jayson Megna will be in the last round of cuts. As for the second forward? I haven’t a clue.

Let’s get rid of the guys who definitely are staying – Derick Brassard, Jesper Fast, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Mats Zuccarello aren’t going anywhere. Kevin Hayes has been invisible but he’s safe too.

In my opinion, Emerson Etem hasn’t earned a spot but he needs waivers to be sent down. As I said in my recap last night, they aren’t going to lose him for nothing so my guess is he gets a long leash and gets to stay.

That leaves five players. Vigneault has liked Viktor Stalberg so I’d be surprised if he’s cut. (I still don’t see what the coach does but I’ve learned to trust him.) I think Jarret Stoll was brought in to be a veteran center and he’s done that so I’d be shocked if he’s cut.

Which leaves us with Tanner GlassOscar Lindberg and Dominic Moore.

You see the problem here. Lindberg needs waivers and has done enough to earn a spot. (Honestly he’s done more than a lot of the forwards remaining in camp.) Moore has been invisible but they won’t just send him to Hartford. Could they trade him? It’s an option, although not sure if it’s one the Rangers want to use at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if teams were interested.

And then there is Glass. Is there a spot for him? That depends on who you ask. There is no one who fills his role but as Vigneault said a few days ago, does speed and skill trump his skill? He’s the easiest guy to remove, minus the two years remaining at a $1.45 million cap hit each year. No one is going to take him with that. But if they put him in Hartford, they have to keep $500k of his cap on the books. That’s better than the full thing but still not ideal.

I really don’t know what the Rangers are going to do and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t at the moment. It’s great to have this depth but you want to keep it and right now, the Rangers need to literally give someone up. Going to be an interesting couple of days…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Rangers Cut Five More + Tonight’s Roster

The Rangers had said they were going to cut down to 18 forwards and 9-10 defensemen after their game in Boston. They lied as they only cut five players leaving them with 19 forwards and 12 defensemen (and three goalies). Yesterday, forwards Marek Hrivik and Adam Tambellini, defensemen Brett Bellemore and Tommy Hughes as well as goaltender Jeff Malcolm were sent to Hartford. I was close in my guess who would be included as only name on that list I didn’t have was Hrivik.

Those cuts left 34 players in camp. Vigneault said he would cut to below 30 after tonight’s game in New Jersey. Guessing some of it will depend on how guys playing tonight do but probably not a good sign for a few players not in the lineup tonight.

Speaking of tonight’s lineup, the last two veterans finally make their debuts as Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will be in the lineup. They, along with Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, took their testing earlier in the week and both said they were ready to go. Hopefully they have as much jump as the latter two did.

The rest of the lineup will be as follows:

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta

Defensemen: Mat Bodie, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Chris Summers

Forwards: Luke Adam, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan

You will notice there are technically seven centers listed in that lineup. J.T. Miller has played exclusively on wing (and is expected to again as he plays with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider). So who are the other two who will be on wing tonight? Kevin Hayes and Dominic Moore. Vigneault has said he will try different things and to me these two make a lot of sense. There is a very good chance Moore and Jarret Stoll will end up on the same line. If that happens, only one can play center. Might as well see which one is better at wing.

As for Hayes, many expected him to have the first crack at replacing St. Louis. Fortunately for Miller, Vigneault liked what he saw at the end of last year and in the playoffs so is giving him the first shot. The other thing in Miller’s favor so far? Hayes has been bad this preseason. I’ve touched on it in recaps of both games he played but Vigneault flat out said he needs to be better:

“I’m expecting more from his game so far,” the coach said. “I understand it’s training camp, but Kevin needs to pick up his play a little bit.”

Challenge given. Will it be accepted? We’ll find out tonight.

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Speaking of St. Louis, Vigneault was finally asked yesterday if he planned to replace his A this season or just stick with three. The coach told the media that after speaking with McDonagh at the start of training camp, they don’t think another A is necessary. It’s possible someone comes out and earns that later in the season but for now it looks like they are sticking with just three. I said before camp started that I didn’t know which route they would go and either would make sense. Now my only question is how will the rotation work? Will one guy get a permanent A with the other two rotating or will it be a three way rotation? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Overtime + Shootout Practice For Rangers In Boston

During the first 10 minutes of this game, I was trying to figure out what I would write tonight as I didn’t think there would be any positives to those wearing the road jerseys. (Other than Henrik Lundqvist who was perfect as always. I’m sure he really appreciated the extra work his teammates gave him right from the first puck drop.) But the Rangers settled in and actually almost made this a hockey game. Almost. It still had preseason written all over it.

Before the game, the Rangers announced four more players had been cut from training camp as Richard Nejezchleb and Travis Oleksuk were sent to Hartford and Jayden Hart and Kirill Kabanov were released from their tryouts. I basically called the Kabanov release after the game Tuesday. He did nothing that night to prove he even deserved a second game nonetheless a contract. Anyway, earlier in the day Vigneault mentioned wanting to get down to six forward lines (18 players) and 9-10 defensemen before the weekend so I expect additional cuts later tonight or first thing in the morning.

On to the game. Well, compared to the first two games, at least it was an actual hockey game. Doesn’t mean it was a good hockey game. But it was better than what we witnessed earlier in the week. And because three guaranteed overtimes weren’t enough, we threw in a fourth for good measure plus a six-round shootout! For the record, I hope at some point this season I see this “exciting 3-on-3 hockey” I keep hearing about. Two games and so far the only excitement in overtime has been 4-on-3, which we’ve seen more of (and I expect to continue to see more of).

Anyway, again not recapping a preseason game play by play. So who stood out?

If I didn’t know better, I would think Rick NashDerick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello were playing a game in the middle of January. They looked like they didn’t miss a beat. I can’t imagine Vigneault was thinking of breaking up that line but after tonight’s performance, I guarantee he isn’t. And it was so good to see Zuccarello back. Here’s to hoping after the game he felt as good as he looked.

I mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again – the King has returned. Henrik Lundqvist looked great in his first start of the season and was put to the test right from the opening draw. He let in one goal in 40 minutes while stopping 21 of 22 shots. So basically, he is in mid-season form. Now let’s hope he doesn’t revert to October-form when it counts.

And now I’m going to talk about everyone’s favorite player – Tanner Glass. Look, he is what he is. I don’t think he’s as bad as everyone thinks but he isn’t being put on the ice for his offensive abilities either. Tonight, he did his job. Everyone’s favorite clown Zac Rinaldo was running around like he always does (in the third period of a 3-2 game which had to excite Julien to no end). He continued to run the Rangers skilled guys so Glass jumped on and challenged him. Of course, he walked away and then ran another Ranger player.

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So what did Glass do? Jump him. I can care less that the referees somehow only called a 2-minute roughing penalty on Glass on the play. You don’t let an idiot like that get away with the stuff he does, especially in a preseason game. My only issue with Glass? He had a helmet-less Rinaldo in a head lock with his head near the ice. I don’t wish injuries on guys but I also don’t think I have to say what he should’ve done. Anyway, I had no problem with what he did and my guess is the coaching staff won’t either.

Who else looked good? Kevin Hayes looked like he remembered what a puck was which was nice. Probably had something to do with being in Boston and against his brother. (I think “Hayes are brothers” has reached “Staals are brothers” territory.) Oscar Lindberg had another solid game, as did Jarret Stoll. I still didn’t notice Emerson Etem but I’m guessing he survives these cuts.

One who probably won’t? Brett Bellemore. He had a rough game and with Vigneault wanting to cut to 9-10 defensemen, I’d be surprised if he puts on a Rangers jersey again. So did Tommy Hughes but pretty sure even he knows he’s in the next round of cuts. The other four defensemen tonight (Ryan McDonagh, Dan BoyleKeith Yandle and Brady Skjei) were solid. I still think Skjei starts in Hartford (and these quotes don’t change that thinking) but he will definitely survive this round of cuts.

So let’s take a guess at the cuts. Vigneault wants 18 forwards, 9-10 defensemen and I’m guessing 3 goalies. Here’s my guess at who will be remaining 24 hours from now:

Forwards: Luke Adam, Ryan Bourque, Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Brian Gibbons, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Mat Bodie, Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle

Goaltenders: Magnus Hellberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

I feel pretty confident these will be the guys in practice tomorrow minus one thing – in looking at the guys left before the cut, I realized I forgot about Chris Summers. So Vigneault may leave 11 (for an extra veteran to put in lineup) or there may be a surprise cut.

Anyway, we’ll confirm the cuts once they are released. Three more games and I’ll actually have to write a real recap…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make First Cuts + Roster Vs Boston

As expected, the Rangers made their first cuts today and there were absolutely no surprises on this list as 19 players (basically group C) were sent to either Hartford or their Junior teams:

Forwards to Hartford: Chris McCarthy, Chad Nehring, Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix, and Nick Tarnasky

Forwards to Juniors: Ryan Gropp, Keegan Iverson, and Brad Morrison

Defensemen to Hartford: Calle Andersson, Kodie Curran, Troy Donnay, Samuel Noreau, and Petr Zamorsky

Defensemen to Juniors: Ryan Mantha, and Sergey Zborovskiy

Goalies to Hartford (both are rehabbing injuries): Cedrick Desjardins and Mackenzie Skapski

Goalie to Juniors: Brandon Halverson

Goalie released from tryout: Jacob Smith

Again, none of these guys were going to see game action during the preseason so no surprises in these cuts. There probably won’t be many surprises in the next round of cuts unless the Rangers choose to make a really big one. It’s after that where it might get interesting.

The remaining players had the day off before 20 of them head to Boston tomorrow for preseason game #3. Speaking of which, definitely a few more familiar names in tomorrow’s roster:

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Bourque, Emerson Etem, Brian Gibbons, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Marek Hrivik, Oscar Lindberg, Rick Nash, Jarret Stoll, Adam Tambellini, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Brett Bellemore, Dan Boyle, Tommy Hughes, Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, Keith Yandle

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Jeff Malcolm

My guess is Lundqvist will play the entire game. I’m not surprised to see Brassard and Nash on that list. I am surprised to see their linemate getting into a game so early. I didn’t expect to see him until next week. Also not surprised to Lindberg playing again. He will probably play almost every game as the Rangers decide what they want to do with him. My guess is they are at the same point I am – he’s probably ready for the NHL but where on the roster do they put him?

On defense, it’s good to see Boyle back from whatever personal issue kept him away from the team the first two games. Hopefully his return means everything is okay. And it’s good to see the captain playing, although again not really surprising. I would expect the other two who haven’t played to make their debut in New Jersey on Saturday.

Bring on the Bruins! (Or whoever is making up the Bruins tomorrow night in Boston…)

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make Second Round Of Cuts

Vigneault tried to confuse fans by saying these would be coming earlier but we all should’ve realized the cuts wouldn’t happen until after the fourth preseason, as he originally said. Last night after the game, he said the team would be down to six “healthy” forward lines, nine or ten defensemen and two goalies. I did some guessing last night and would say I was pretty close as here are the guys who are remaining in camp:

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Haggerty, Kevin Hayes, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Malone, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Chris Mueller, Rick Nash, Lee Stempniak, Marty St. Louis, and Mats Zuccarello

Injured Forwards: Matthew Lombardi and Derek Stepan

Defense: Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Matt Hunwick, Steven Kampfer, Kevin Klein, Michael Kostka, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, John Moore, and Marc Staal

Goalie: Cedric Desjardins, Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot

(I didn’t have Kampfer staying but otherwise perfectly predicted the remaining roster. Desjardins will be sent down when healthy as he apparently tweaked something last night.)

That would mean the following players are headed to Hartford:

Forwards: Chris Bourque, Ryan Bourque, Danny Kristo, Nicholas Tarnasky and Petr Zamorsky

Defense: Conor Allen, Mat Bodie, and Tommy Hughes

Goalie: Jason Missiaen

Honestly, there are no surprises in this group. (To the point that this was written last night after the game and only one change needed to be made.) And while some will see this as a bad sign for certain guys, it really isn’t. The ones fans were hoping made the team are still young and still have time to be a call up as soon as this season. Yes I want to see Ryan Bourque and Danny Kristo make it. But this is a numbers game and unfortunately they’ve slid down the depth chart. It doesn’t mean they are busts. At least not yet.

The Rangers will practice the next two days before ending the preseason with a game at home against the Blackhawks on Friday and then in New Jersey on Saturday. The cuts after that game is when it will get interesting. While I have my guesses, I’ll reserve judgement until I see how the remaining players play over the weekend.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make First Cuts + Wolfpack Roster

At the start of training camp, the Rangers said they would be making their first cuts after the rookie game played this afternoon. They didn’t mention that rookie game would be against the Devils at their practice facility but they did tell us a game would be played. None of the beat writers were in attendance so there isn’t a lot out there from a Rangers perspective. Sounds like that was a good thing as the kids lost 5-2.

After the game, the first cuts were indeed made as 20 players were cut from the roster and sent to the following places:

To Hartford:

Troy Donnay, Michael Kantor, Nickolas Latta, Paxton Leroux, Chris McCarthy, Richard Nejezchleb, Logan Nelson, Josh Nicholls, Sam Noreau, Mackenzie Skapski, Michael St. Croix, and Andrew Yogan

To their respective junior teams:

Ryan Graves, Brandon Halverson, Keegan Iverson, Ryan Mantha, Adam Tambellini, and Daniel Walcott

Released from their tryouts:

Nathan Burns and Dallas Valentine

There are absolutely no surprises on this list as these are all guys who were on Team C to start. I’m not going to list who is left as it’s basically everyone you’ve heard of or about since camp started. The next round of cuts is where things will start to get interesting. Not that the guys who were fighting for the spot would’ve been early cuts, but if you’re a center, Stepan’s injury definitely helped you to last as long as possible.

After those cuts, the Wolfpack announced their initial roster for their camp which starts on Friday. Their list will obviously change as the Rangers make more changes to their roster. Including the 12 listed above, the Wolfpack’s training camp roster includes 19 forwards, 9 defensemen and 2 goaltenders:

Goal: Jeff Malcolm, Mackenzie Skapski

Defense: Nick Crawford, Troy Donnay, Sean Escobedo, Andrew Himelson, Dallas Jackson, Brandon Martell, Sam Noreau, Steve Spinell, Mikael Tam

Forwards: Tyler Brown, Mike Catenacci, Emerson Clark, Kyle Jean, Michael Kantor, Nick Latta, Paxton Leroux, Chris McCarthy, Pat Mullane, Chad Nehring, Logan Nelson, Richard Nejezchleb, Josh Nicholls, Shawn O’Donnell, Trevor Parkes, Michael St. Croix, Vinny Saponari, Justin Vaive, Andrew Yogan

For those asking why some of those guys weren’t with the Rangers initially, I think it has to do with their contracts. Guys that were on AHL only deals wouldn’t attend the Rangers camp.

I’m going to put another plug for the site here as I am still looking for someone to help cover the Wolfpack this year. If you follow the team and want to write about them, please reach out to me. I really want to get them the coverage they deserve!

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And with that, camp goes on. I’m still processing the disaster that is the Rangers center situation for the first month but at least it isn’t longer.

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I believe the teams practice tomorrow before the guys who didn’t play on Monday head to Chicago for their second preseason game Friday night. Hopefully Patrick Kane will sit that one out. I heard he’s already terrorizing teams…

 

(Photo: Blueshirts United)

Hartford Wolf Pack Make Cuts Before Season Opener This Saturday

It comes down to basic math – the more guys the Rangers send to Hartford, the more guys that are already there that need to go. So was the case yesterday when the Wolf Pack cut 14 players, getting their roster down to 24 before they open their season Saturday night at home against Norfolk.

The cuts were broken down into four groups as follows:

Reassigned by the New York Rangers from the Hartford Wolf Pack to Greenville (ECHL):
(These are guys who are on ELCs with the Rangers.)
Forwards: Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix, Jason Wilson
Defensemen: Samuel Noreau

Loaned by the Hartford Wolf Pack to Greenville (ECHL):
(These are guys on AHL contracts with the Wolf Pack.)
Forwards: 
Andrew Rowe
Defensemen: Charlie Dodero, Mike Marcou
Goaltenders: Jeff Malcolm

Released from training camp tryouts and joining Greenville (ECHL):
(These guys were on PTOs and will now be on PTOs with Greenville.)
Forwards: Sean Ambrosie, Brandon Hynes, Matt Kirzinger

Released from training camp tryouts:
(These are guys we wish good luck to as they are no longer with the organization.)
Forwards: Scott Arnold
Defensemen:
Sam Klassen, Jason Lepine

S/T to Dave Shapiro of Blue Seat Blogs who posted the news here. Official release can be found on the Wolf Pack website here.

I haven’t followed preseason or training camp for the Wolf Pack to know if any of these are surprises but I’m guessing Michael St. Croix and probably Jason Wilson were supposed to stick in the AHL this year. (Wilson bounced back and forth between the AHL and ECHL last season. Looks like he will be doing it again this year.)

For those looking for names they might recognize, here are the guys still in Hartford:

Forwards (14): Ryan Bourque, Andrew Carroll, Brodie Dupont, Micheal Haley, Marek Hrivik, Kyle Jean, Michael Kantor, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Mashinter, Shawn O’Donnell, Darroll Powe, Andrew Yogan

Defensemen (7): Conor Allen, Stu Bickel, Tommy Hughes, Aaron Johnson, Dylan McIlrath, Brendon Nash, Danny Syvret

Goalies (3): Jason Missiaen, Scott Stajcer, Cam Talbot

By the end of next week, you can probably add Jesper Fast or J.T. Miller (I’m going to assume Fast but that’s no guarantee) to this list as one of them should be the one sent down once Callahan is healthy. Unless the Rangers make a trade before that…

 

Photo above from Wolf Pack Meet & Greet event held this past Saturday.
Credit: @WolfPackAHL/twitter