Monday, September 27, 2010
Rangers cut down to 27
Earlier today, the Rangers made their second round of cuts. Team President & GM Glen Sather announced that the club assigned Chad Johnson, Wade Redden, Evgeny Grachev, Dale Weise and Mats Zuccarello to Hartford. Dane Byers, Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams will also continue camp with the AHL affiliate. While those eight remain in the organization, defensemen Garnet Exelby, Brandon Manning and Alexei Semenov were all released from tryouts, leaving nine players competing for seven spots on the blueline.
Incumbents Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Mike Del Zotto and Michael Rozsival comprise the top four. Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Pavel Valentenko are all in competition for the final three slots. Out of the five, Gilroy, McDonagh and Valentenko have looked the best. But figure the club to start the season with at least vet Eminger as an extra, leaving Gilroy and McDonagh with the inside track. I'd like to see more from Valentenko and Brian Leetch trade holdover Sauer, who's getting one last shot.
As for what's up front, there are 16 players left. With both Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal banged up, it's given golden opportunities to rookie Derek Stepan along with vets Erik Christensen, Ruslan Fedotenko, Tim Kennedy and Todd White. Though Christensen should have a spot based on being re-signed after a solid stint last year, it remains unclear where he'll start. The club remains without a top playmaking pivot to center potential lethal Euro combo Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov. Does Stepan get a shot at the start in two weeks when the team visits Buffalo October 8 and the Islanders October 11? The 20 year-old former Badger certainly has the most upside. If he's not ready, they can always ship him to Hartford.
Brian Boyle is competing with Kennedy and White for the fourth line. Though White's capable of moving up due to his experience with Gabby in St. Paul. There's also Fedotenko, who's opened some eyes with a strong camp highlighted by a three-point effort in the Rangers' 5-4 overtime win over the Devils Saturday. John Tortorella knows him well from Tampa where Feds was a hero against both the Flyers and Flames en route to Lord Stanley. Still, the journeyman who also was part of the Pens' Cup in '08-09 would be used in a secondary role where he hopefully could supply offense on the third line with possibly some power play duty in store. Considering that he's here on a tryout, Fedetenko has done enough to warrant consideration. He's capable of contributing 15 goals and at least 30 points. You wonder if MZA could've done that. But he'll start with the Pack.
No surprise that the two goalies are Henrik Lundqvist and new vet backup Martin Biron, who's been steady thus far. Hopefully, King Henrik got the cobwebs out in Newark.
The Blueshirts have three exhibitions left, including the second of a home-and-home with the Red Wings, who dealt them their first defeat yesterday by a score of 5-3 (really 6 if not for ref incompetence). Biron played the first two periods permitting three while Johnson came in relief, letting in two. Sean Avery, Christensen and Artem Anisimov (SHG) were the goalscorers. Tomas Holmstrom netted the winner for Detroit while Brian Rafalski added a goal and three helpers with Jimmy Howard (18 saves) going all the way. They Original Sixes meet again at MSG Wednesday at 7 ET on MSG.
NY RANGERS REMAINING CAMP ROSTER
G (2)-Biron, Lundqvist
D (9)-Del Zotto, Eminger, Gilroy, Girardi, McDonagh, Rozsival, Sauer, Staal, Valentenko
F (16)-Anisimov, Avery, Boogaard, Boyle, Callahan, Christensen, Drury, Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Frolov, Gaborik, Kennedy, Prospal, Prust, Stepan, White