New York Rangers Training Camp: Taxi Squad for the shortened season
When the league returned to play last season for the “playoffs” each team brought an expanded roster to it. The New York Rangers had 30 players which included 27 skaters and 3 goaltenders.
For next season, they are talking about expanding the rosters by two, maybe even three players. However, they need to discuss how that will work against the cap. Another item on the docket are “taxi squads”.
According to early reports, these taxis squads would consist of 5 skaters and 1 goalie. The caveat, is they would have to be on an AHL salary (under the $1.075 million threshold you are allowed to bury in the AHL without a cap penalty). No impact to the cap.
New York Rangers Return to Play expanded roster
Let’s first look at who the extra skaters were the Rangers brought with them to the bubble last season.
Forwards: Steven Fogarty (gone), Tim Gettinger, Vitali Kravtsov (on loan), Vinni Lettieri (gone), Gregg McKegg (gone), and Danny O’Regan.
Defense: Brandon Crawley, Libor Hajek, and Darren Raddysh
It’s very possible that Gettinger, Hajek, and Crawley could be on the taxi squad but let’s dive into it further.
Recently, I wrote about whom the Rangers should bring to training camp. There are certainly going to be battles for roster spots. At the moment, Anthony Bitetto is listed as the 7th defenseman, which is unlikely to remain that way. I see Hajek or Reunanen taking the 7th defense spot.
Also, Colin Blackwell is one of the forwards on the team roster on the Rangers website. That will not be the case as Alexis Lafreniere will make the team.
Predicting the New York Rangers Taxi Squad
When constructing the taxi squad, it makes sense to go with an actual unit. Three forwards, two defenseman, and one goalie. All have to meet that criteria of being either under the allowed salary limit or on a two-way contract.
Here’s who I see being on the New York Rangers taxi squad:
- Forward, Colin Blackwell
- Forward, Tim Gettinger
- Forward, Danny O’Regan
- Defense, Brandon Crawley (or Libor Hajek if Reunanen beats him out)
- Defense, Anthony Bitetto
- Goalie, Keith Kinkaid
I know, the first thing some of you are saying is why not players like K’Andre Miller, Morgan Barron, and Tarmo Reunanen? While they all have two-way deals, it would be better if they were actually playing in order to develop. Also, with Miller and Barron they have bonus clauses tied to their ELC’s that would already stress the cap.
Get to know the Rangers new “Black Aces”
The term “Black Aces” was made popular during the 1994 NYR Cup winning season. Nick Kypreos was a member of that squad and talked fondly about always being ready when the team needed him. Kyper discussed this on the latest episode of the Forever Blueshirts Radio podcast.
On this new edition, I added two centers in Blackwell and O’Regan. The 27 year-old Blackwell was signed this offseason and played for the Nashville Predators last year. In 27 games, he potted three goals and 10 points. O’Regan is 26 years-old and has 22 games of NHL experience with 5 points. He has been in the AHL for the last two seasons.
Two more members of the Wolf Pack were added with Brandon Crawley (D) and Tim Gettinger (F). The 23 year-old Crawley is a NJ native that has offensive upside and played one exhibition game for the Rangers. Gettinger is 22 years-old and has played 6 games with the Blueshirts, including 2 last season.
Finally, we go with two more players signed this offseason in goaltender Keith Kinkaid and defenseman Anthony Bitetto. Kinkaid is the elder statesman of the group at 31 year of age and was signed to a 2 year deal in order to be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft in 2021.
Bitetto is the most seasoned skater of this group with 183 NHL games including 51 with the Winnipeg Jets last year. The 30 year-old rearguard and Long Island native would also be the most likely call up on defense if there’s a significant injury.