Recapping the Rangers 2015 Preseason

Gorton has some decision to make (NHL/CBSsports)

Gorton has some decision to make (NHL/CBSsports)

It’s hard to believe that we are less than a week away from Opening Night in Chicago! If you’re not excited, then find some to way to get excited. After going 4-1-1 in the preseason, it’s time to analyze some takeaways from the last few weeks of tryout hockey.

Roster Battles

As of the final preseason game against Boston, there were probably two roster spots left to be claimed: one forward and one defenseman. To get this out there quickly, Emerson Etem is NOT being demoted to Hartford. He must clear waivers first and you’re mistaken if you think he’ll go unclaimed. And that’s besides the fact that he was the main return in the Carl Hagelin trade.

The real decision AV will be making is Jarrett Stoll or Tanner Glass. If last year was any indication, Glass will have AV advocating for him, but as we all know, there’s a new Sheriff in town by the name of Jeff Gorton and he may have something else to say about that. Stoll is by far the more versatile player; he can play wing if necessary and he’s one of the best face-off men in the league.

McIlrath may be a keeper (Getty)

McIlrath may be a keeper (Getty)

On defense, things get a lot more interesting. I was a bit surprised when Brady Skeji was sent down, only because I thought he was ready and his game fits well with AV’s system. Not to mention that just a few months ago, I predicted on this site that the 2012 first rounder would make the opening night roster.

However, I also believed that the Rangers were going to trade Kevin Klein at the draft or some other time in the offseason to accommodate Skeji. With the guys still in camp, it’s between Raphael Diaz and Dylan McIlrath. I don’t think you’ll find a Rangers fan out there, who wasn’t delighted to see how well the 2010 first rounder performed in camp, as this was basically his final audition with the Rangers organization.

Considering McIlrath will be claimed on waivers, the Rangers will likely take a chance putting Diaz on waivers.

Goaltending

Not much to discuss here as everyone pretty much knew that Raanta was going to be the backup barring some injury.

3 on 3

If this is what helps minimize the amount of games going to a shootout, then I’ll take it. It’s still not the best way to decide a game, but it’s still hockey- not an individual skills competition. I think once the Rangers get more used to the new OT format (not taking too many men penalties), they will be one of the better teams 3 on 3. With the speed of Kreider, strength of Nash, playmaking ability of Zuccarello, Brassard & Stepan and the puck-moving abilities of McDonagh and Yandle, the Rangers should be well suited once extra time hits.

Standouts

Offense: Oscar Lindberg. The spot was his to lose and he’s won it big time.

Defense: Dylan McIlrath. As mentioned before, everyone who follows the Rangers knew this was it for McIlrath, and he was up to the task. His abilities with the puck have improved tremendously and he’s now given AV a very tough choice in terms of the 7th defensemen.

Any moves?

Diaz on waivers?

Diaz on waivers?

With the season set to start on Wednesday, the Rangers will try and finalize the roster ASAP. Is Jeff Gorton working the phones to see who might be interested in Kevin Klein? I would think so. Trading Klein would do so much for the Rangers and would give the team some much needed cap space (Klein has a $2.9MM cap hit) and roster flexibility. Maybe McIlrath has played himself out of New York in a good way the same Cam Talbot did. When all is said an done, I think Stoll makes it as the last forward and Glass gets sent to Hartford. As for the defense, I think Diaz makes it over McIlrath and a trade comes in the next few days with either Klein or McIlrath heading elsewhere.

Would love to hear your thoughts, and as always, stay tuned with FTNYR for all roster moves and shakeups as we get ready to start the 90th season of New York Rangers hockey!!!

Follow me on twitter: @ekwestel