Surprise Forwards That Could Make The Rangers Out Of Camp
This season, more so than ever in the past decade of New York Rangers hockey, is going to be one with absolutely no expectations. The rebuild is in full swing and the Rangers are going to use the next few seasons to develop their homegrown talent that will eventually lead the way to a Stanley Cup contender. With the roster in such flux, let’s take a look at a few select forwards that could make the team as rookies right out of camp. Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil aren’t included because they are basically locks for the second and third line center roles.
Ville Meskanen and Michael Lindqvist
These two are straight up wild cards for the New York Rangers organization. They’ve both showed that they know how to put the puck in the net overseas, but will those skills be able to translate in the NHL? Only time will tell. Meskanen and Lindqvist were both signed out of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) with each scoring at least 20 goals (Meskanen with 24 and Lindqvist with 20) and averaging close to a point per game. For young players to do that in a league full of men isn’t easy.
If they both have a great training camp and preseason, what’s to stop them from making the team? New head coach David Quinn will be looking to see who steps up and has the drive, will, and skill to make his hockey team. If they impress, they could be nice middle–six players this year. If they don’t, then they’ll end up in Hartford for a little more seasoning.
They almost certainly would be better contributors than the Cody McLeod’s and Matt Beleskey’s of the world. Don’t count out one or even both of Meskanen and Lindqvist making the squad.
The big center from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors will almost certainly push for a spot with the Rangers this season. He was no giveaway in the Ryan McDonagh trade. Howden is a hard-nosed center with skill that has the size and tools to succeed on Broadway. Here’s the problem though: the Rangers have a logjam at center and he would have to beat out one of Mika Zibanejad, Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and/or Kevin Hayes to claim a role with the big club this season.
Is it possible? Sure. But if Howden impresses enough, Hayes may switch back to the wing to make room for the young center. Would the best thing for Howden’s development be starting as possibly a fourth line center though? Probably not, because he’s probably better served to be the Wolf Pack’s number one center and get a lot of minutes this upcoming season.
If he has a great training camp though, you never know.
The longest shot out of these players to make the roster, but if he does, he could be the Rangers‘ newest spark plug. Ronning had an absolutely dominant last season of junior hockey where he scored 61 goals for the Vancouver Giants and showed he had a real nose for the net. He’s not afraid to get in front of the net and he’s not afraid of anyone on the ice.
Ronning’s knock on him is his size, he’s listed at 5’9” and around 170 lbs., but as we’ve seen in today’s NHL, smaller players can still make a huge impact. Johnny Gaudreau, former Rangers forward Martin St. Louis, and our own Mats Zuccarello come to mind. Could Ronning make an impact in a third line or fourth line role this year? Or, is he better suited for top-line minutes in the AHL until more space on the roster possibly opens up? That’s going to be a decision for David Quinn and Jeff Gorton to make. But like the players listed before, if Ronning has a great camp, he could force his way onto the roster.