The New York Rangers cleared up the picture on defense for opening night by sending Zac Jones to the Wolf Pack yesterday. That left them with 8 defensemen, assuming they will keep both Libor Hajek and Jarred Tinordi on the 23 man roster until a Hajek trade can be facilitated.
Gerard Gallant’s starting defense will be:
- Adam Fox – Ryan Lindgren
- Jacob Trouba – K’Andre Miller
- Nils Lundkvist – Patrik Nemeth
So where do we stand with the forward group? Let’s dive in.
New York Rangers forward group
The Blueshirts have 15 forwards remaining in camp. If they do opt to keep both Hajek and Tinordi due to the possibility of losing them on waiver, that means two of the following forwards will need to go.
Forwards On The Bubble: Morgan Barron, Julien Gauthier, Dryden Hunt, and Vitali Kravtsov.
Of the four forwards vying for a spot on the RW third line and the 13th forward, only Barron and Kravtsov are exempt from waivers.
Let’s immediately eliminate the notion that Kravtsov, who came back to practice after missing a few days with a lower-body injury is in the mix to be cut. “It’s not just from training camp,” Gallant said about the decision if he’ll make the lineup. “He’s been here for awhile and the organization knows him real well.”
That means the real bubble is probably Barron, Gauthier, and Hunt. Which of these three will make the 23 man roster? My money is on Gauthier.
Morgan Barron and Dryden Hunt will be the next cuts
Julien Gauthier is not waivers exempt, and would most likely be snatched up if they try to send him down. If Kravtsov, the expected third line RW isn’t ready to go on opening night, Gauthier has separated himself and earned that spot.
The 23 year-old has 11 points in 47 career games with the Hurricanes and Rangers. He signed a one-year two-way deal this summer. His NHL salary is $775,000 and his minor league deal is for $300,000. That’s why there’s no way he’d make it to Hartford.
Meanwhile, Hunt is better suited for a 4th line role. Sammy Blais could likely move up if need be, but Hunt would likely go unclaimed if they send him down.
Why not keep Morgan Barron? The Rangers made it clear they want him to play center and he did not beat out Filip Chytil or Kevin Rooney for that position. Plus he is waiver exempt and he can continue to develop with big minutes in the AHL. Which is better than sitting in a press box.
At 6-4, 220 lbs and 22 years-old, Barron can play a physical and heavy game. There’s also an element of offense as he scored 21 points in 21 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season.
In his brief 5 game stint with the big club at the end of last year, he scored a goal in 13:41 of average ice time. The sixth round pick from 2017 is likely a prime candidate for a call up if the Blueshirts suffer an injury down the middle.
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