Rangers Roundup: Gallant on the roster, Miller’s PP future, and Schneider’s play

The New York Rangers are happy to be home after a season-long five game road trip. The team held a team practice today in preparation for Wednesday’s contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s great,” Gerard Gallant said about being back. “A lot of rest. It’s been good.”

Center Ryan Strome was given another day off for “maintenance” while Dryden Hunt skated with the regulars. Both Barclay Goodrow and Alexis Lafreniere did not attend the skate but are eligible to return from COVID protocol soon.

Gerard Gallant on Rangers roster

Hunt, 26, signed a one-year, two-way deal for $767K this summer. He scored 8 points for Arizona last year in 26 games, and has registered 7 point in 35 games this season. The physical forward last played on 1/6 against the Vegas Golden Knights and missed four games with an upper-body injury.

“Yes, he’s definitely an option,” Gallant said of Hunt’s availability. “He had a good practice. We’ll find out tomorrow after another practice.”

There is also the possibility that both Lafreniére and Goodrow could be back from the COVID list in time for the Leafs game. That will further press Gallant into several other roster decisions, including what to do with rookie Morgan Barron.

“He’s played really well,” Gallant said of Barron. “He could play all three forward positions so that makes him real valuable for us.”

It’s uncertain if Gallant will keep Gallant in the lineup, but his prowess in the face-off circle would be good to have at his disposal.

“66% is pretty high,” Barron said of his faceoff winning percentage. “My goal every game is to be 55 aggregate. Maybe it’s a little lofty… but I try to put a lot emphasis on every one I take.”

Another uncertainty is where Filip Chytil will play once Alexis and Barclay are back? Gallant did not provide an answer as he left all options on the table, but it is likely that Chytil will remain on the second line for now.

Gallant talks K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider

k'andre miller
Jan 13, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) swings towards San Jose Sharks left wing Rudolfs Balcers (92) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

K’Andre Miller is still a kid at 21 years old. I feel like that point is often lost on far too many people when he makes the occasional mistake on defense.

This season, Miller continues to be partnered with Jacob Trouba but is seeing a little less ice time. That’s due in large part to Patrik Nemeth often taking his spot late in games. In 2020-21, K’Andre averaged 21:07 per game to this season’s 19:24.

However, we could see an uptick in PP time in the near future.

“I talk to K’Andre earlier in the year to make sure he attended those power play meetings,” Gallant said. “You’re going to get some opportunities — not a whole lot. He’s a big guy that can shoot the puck and we see (him on the PP) down the road.”

Gallant was also asked about rookie defenseman Braden Schneider, who actually made his debut in San Jose while the coach was on COVID protocol.

“He’s not cocky. He’ seems to be one of the guys,” Gallant said of Schneider’s calm and poise. “He’s been here four or five days and he walks in and you know he’s excited to be in the NHL but you don’t feel that.”

As to why Gallant believes he’s adjusted so quickly, he credits Schneider’s time at the World Championships with Team Canada. A tournament they won Gold together.

“He was there with us for three weeks,” Gallant explained. “I got to know the kid pretty well and all the older players took him under their wing and helped him out. I think that was huge for him coming into the NHL for sure.”

The head coach, who had interviewed for the Rangers vacant coaching job prior to heading to Latvia admitted that he took special interest in Schneider. It was something the kid noticed too.

“I got to know (Gallant) quite well (at the World Championships),” Schneider said upon his call up. “I was always talking with Gerard and we built up a pretty solid relationship.”

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