Rangers open Training Camp for 2017-2018 Season
The time has finally arrived! The Rangers opened their Training Camp for the 2017-18 season on Thursday with high hopes and expectations. The Blueshirts come into camp after a rough end to the 2016-17 campaign with a second round loss to the Ottawa Senators, and will no doubt be looking to build on last season.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 13, 2017
What to Watch For
Filling the Hole in the Middle
One thing the Rangers will be looking for during this camp is another bottom six center. The top two lines will be centered by Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes, but the third and fourth line roles are up for grabs. Jeff Gorton brought in David Desharnais on a one year deal, but the 31-year-old center is not a third line center by any stretch of the imagination. The Rangers are bringing in Andrew Desjardins on a PTO, and like Desharnais, he wouldn’t be the first choice for a third line center on most teams either.
So that leaves room for the Rangers prospects to step in and try and make a big enough impression on Alain Vigneault and the Rangers’ brass to make the roster. Players like Steven Fogarty and Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, who have spent the last two seasons in Hartford, should be getting a long look from the big club. Factor in 2017 first round draft pick Lias Andersson as well, and the Rangers have a few guys who may be serious competitors for a roster spot on opening night.
Determining the Defense
Another thing to look for is how the Rangers will fill out their defense. The Rangers top four is pretty much set in stone with Ryan McDonagh playing alongside free agent signing Kevin Shattenkirk, and youngster Brady Skjei playing next to veteran Brendan Smith. That leaves the bottom pair. Marc Staal will be on one side of the blue line, and the question remains as to who his partner will be. While it is most likely going to be his partner from last season Nick Holden, the Rangers have a bevy of options to choose from. They have 2017 Memorial Cup champion Sean Day, an offensive defenseman with great skating ability who they can bring in, but Day still has plenty of work to do on the defensive side of the puck. They have two Russian defensemen, Sergei Zborovsky and Alexei Bereglazov, both of whom are 6’4″ and are good in their own zone. The one caveat is that Bereglazov has a clause in his contract, much like former KHL teammate Pavel Buchnevich, that allows him to return to the KHL if he doesn’t make the Rangers roster.
Leading the charge is newly acquired Anthony DeAngelo, who the Rangers got from Arizona in the Derek Stepan/Antti Raanta trade. DeAngelo is an offensive defenseman with great skating ability but is lacking in his own zone. And speaking of offensive defensemen, they have 2017 Memorial Cup champion Sean Day, an offensive defenseman with great skating ability who they can bring in, but Day still has plenty of work to do on the defensive side of the puck. They have two Russian defensemen, Sergei Zborovsky and Alexei Bereglazov, both of whom are 6’4″ and are good in their own zone. The one caveat is that Bereglazov has a clause in his contract, much like former KHL teammate Pavel Buchnevich, that allows him to return to the KHL if he doesn’t make the Rangers roster.
Jeff Gorton and Alain Vigneault also have a group of NCAA signings to look at as well. Vince Pedrie and Neal Pionk were both signed out of college by the Blueshirts, and they will be looking to make a good impression as well. And let’s not forget about Steven Kampfer, who played a few games with the Rangers last season and had a little bit of success. Kampfer picked up a goal and an assist in ten games on Broadway and did a solid job in his own zone.
The Rangers have all of these guys competing for the sixth and seventh defenseman roles and hopefully, that pushes everyone to play at their best. The better these guys play, the harder it is for the coaches and general manager, but the players will be getting better trying to outperform the next guy.
These are just a couple of storylines to watch as the Rangers embark on the 2017-18 season. All of these questions will be answered in the coming weeks, and it will be a lot of fun to watch.