Roster Wars: Who Makes The Rangers?
The Rangers started training camp with 63 guys, but by the time October rolls around the roster will be down to 23. The Rangers have a nice mix of talented players all competing for about 3 starting spots. Right now the biggest question for the Rangers is if they will look to play some bigger grittier players or add even more speed to try to overwhelm the opposition.
My Opening Night Lineup
My explanation of these projections is below.
Kreider- Stepan- St.Louis
Nash- Brassard- Zuccarello
Hagelin- Miller- Malone
Third Line Right Wing– The Rangers will end up sticking with Ryan Malone. He is a veteran who can play on the power play and will help the Rangers against bigger teams. Fighting plays a smaller role in today’s game, but you still need some sand paper. If you leave Malone out of the lineup the Rangers only have Kreider to screen goalies. Malone’s unique mix of attributes put him ahead of guys like Hayes, Stempniak, and Bourque
Third Line Center–J.T. Miller wins the 3rd center role, because he has been around this team and looks great in camp. Miller is bigger than Lombardi but faster than Hayes and has some seasoning at the NHL level. Miller also has the make up of a solid third line center, he is physical, can play a skill game, and isn’t bad in his own end.
Fourth Line Right Wing– Jasper Fast ends up on the 4th line, because the Rangers want to see him develop, but also because he can bring offense to that line while also helping on the fore check. The Rangers are looking to have their fourth line be a force again. Fast has a well rounded game and can be good defensively, but his offensive ability, and natural speed give the fourth line the potential to capitalize on opportunities.
Thirteenth Forward– Lee Stempniak ends up as the 13th forward, because he is a veteran who has been around the league and he can move all over the lineup. Last year he was on a line with Sidney Crosby. He also has experience on the power play and penalty kill. His versatility makes him an ideal 13th forward. Since Stempniak has been in the league a while they know he understands being prepared and doesn’t need to constantly play to be good.
Seventh and Eight Defensemen- Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick are the prototypical spare defenders. Neither of them are dominating, but they can plug a hole on short notice. I expect that Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath will be up when guys are hurting, the Rangers would rather Allen and McIlrath play big minutes in the AHL.
Have an issue with my projections? Feel free to prove me wrong in the comments.
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