New York Rangers Training Camp: Expect to see a variety of pairings on defense
We continue our New York Rangers Training Camp series with a focus on the team’s defense. Yesterday, we called for a change to the top line with obvious implications to the rest of the forward group. So please check that out when you have time.
In doing this particular exercise I came to realize that aside from the likely untouchable pairing of Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox, it’s all up in the air.
New York Rangers Training Camp: Going top four heavy
The Rangers may completely forego the whole left/right handedness on defense. They’ve talked about taking righty Tony DeAngelo and putting him with Jacob Trouba on the top pair.
DeAngelo played his OHL career on his off-side and has no issue doing it at the NHL level. Matter of fact, as an offensive defenseman he would prefer his stick be in the middle of the ice. Of course that causes a dilemma on the third pair.
Jack Johnson is very likely penciled in as the left-defenseman on the third paring. The only potential righty that could claim a spot is Darren Raddysh and that’s unlikely.
I don’t believe David Quinn would be comfortable taking lefty prospects Libor Hajek or Tarmo Reunanen and slot them on their off-side. That means veteran lefty Brendan Smith will reprise the role he played with Brady Skjei a few seasons ago as a right defender.
Keeping the Left/Right balance
Quinn may discover quickly that a slow-footed but bruising duo of Johnson and Smith may not fit into his style of play. Neither is known for being great or fast on the transition.
That being said, either Libor Hajek or Tarmo Reunanen will need to show they can make this team. Sadly, this is going to be a short camp with no exhibition games for DQ to make a decision.
Coaches will then rely on what they know and in this case, Hajek earned a spot last camp and played with Trouba to start the season. So it is very possible the pairings will be more traditional with Hajek getting first crack and Reunanen ready to step in at any moment.
A tough job for Quinn
This abbreviated camp is going to be very difficult for all teams and coaches. While DQ may try different combos during scrimmages similar to ones he conducted during RTP, none of them will be properly tested until put in front of an opposing team.
The two combo of pairings I laid out are just a foundation. At some point, Lindgren could step up and play with Trouba. Johnson with Fox. Hajek with DeAngelo. Truthfully speaking, this is going to be a trial and error situation and it could take 5 games into the season to get it right.