Rangers Roundup: Training camp day 1 notes; Zibanejad talks contract; Kreider on leadership; and more

Big day 1 of camp takeaways.

By Forever Blueshirts
new york rangers captain
Mar 22, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrate after a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers held a spirited first day of training camp as the group was broken down into three teams. During the session, some early possible line combinations presented themselves, but don’t get married to them.

Gerard Gallant was pretty direct when he said he was going to tinker in the preseason. However here’s some notable combinations:

  • Kreider – Zibanejad – Lafrenière
  • Panarin – Strome – Kakko
  • Goodrow – Chytil – Kravtsov
  • Blais – Rooney – Reaves
  • Lindgren – Fox
  • Miller – Trouba
  • Nemeth – Lundkvist

The new coach had a little fun when asked about Panarin and Zibanejad on different lines today. “I read that all summer. You guys want them as a line,” he said with a wink. “You know what, we just put some lines together – you know it’s day one, we’ll see where things go with that.”

Mika Zibanejad on contract talks

Zibanejad, 28, earns $5.35 million and is due for an increase. In the last two seasons he has scored 65 goals and 125 points in 113 games. That’s worth big time money, and if he hits the open market next summer he could get 7 years at $10 million per season. However, that’s not going to distract him.

“I’m focusing on what I do on the ice,” Zibanejad said in response to his contact talks. “I have an agent for a reason as well to deal with this, so it doesn’t have to take my focus and time away from what I have to do on the ice and prepare for the season.”

Mika did allude to the fact that the two sides are talking. “Right now they are taking care of business,” he said. “So I am taking care of my own.”

Before camp, Larry Brooks noted that work was being done on a longterm deal. The Rangers top center indicated his desire to stay during his presser. “I love it here. I love the direction we’re going in,” Zibanejad explained. “I’m just excited to be back, competing with and against my teammates preparing for the season.”

Chris Kreider talks leadership

chris kreider captain
Mar 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) and left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrate the Rangers win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Kreider, 30, is about to embark on his 10th season with the Rangers. He’s played for two Blueshirts captains in Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh, but even more leaders. The power forward has been in a room with the likes of Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Rick Nash to name a few.

“In the time that I’ve been here, [the C] has been on the chest of a guy whose been a figurehead and an example on the ice,” Kreider said. “The most important thing has been the collective group of leaders we’ve had. You just can’t have the right guy wear the C and not have veterans perpetuate that message.”

The Rangers longest tenured member brought up the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2014 and laughed that they traded their captain before that. “We missed [Callahan] a ton, but obviously we had a ton of leaders in the room and guys stepped up,” he said.

When asked about his leadership style, Kreider gave a thoughtful response.

“It’s about being genuine, true to yourself, not trying to be something that you’re not,” he explained. “For me I think there’s an increase in self awareness of who I am as a leader and as a veteran. I like working with people one-on-one. I think I’ve been around long enough, experienced enough, to share some of that experience and to be compassionate, to be empathetic, understanding of the position that a guy might be in. To approach guys, not necessarily with all the answers, but to listen and understand. And that’s something I think we have up and down the organization.”

“Everyone wants to make the playoffs…there’s a lot of love in this building right now. Guys are building each other up. Guys want to grow and be better,” he continued. “I wouldn’t view myself as a huge rah-rah cheerleader, I’m definitely not quiet on the bench or in the locker room. I’m grateful and appreciative to be here, and if I can help direct people towards that, I’ve done my job.”

Spoken like a captain to me.

Other tidbits

Several players did not practice due to injury:

  • Keith Kinkaid (upper body)
  • Austin Rueschhoff (lower body)
  • Matthew Robertson (lower body)
  • Evan Vierling (upper body)

The Rangers also had a little fun with Adam Fox today. Replacing his name with NORRIS on his jersey.

NHL Rumors

Vlad Tarasenko is at Blues camp and doesn’t want to talk about his trade demands. That and more here.