The Replacements: Who jumps in if Lemieux and DeAngelo hold out

Lemieux (Sipkin/NYPost)

Training camp opens up this Thursday for the big club. Players are expected to report in and then take the ice on Friday. If both RFAs, Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo remain unsigned, don’t expect them to be there. The natural question is, who would jump in if they are out? Let’s address that here.

Replacing Lemieux

Brendan Lemieux is a rare commodity in the Rangers lineup. He is a gritty agitator that can actually contribute offensively. He won’t be easy to replace but the Rangers do have a few temporary options for pre-season at least.

  1. Michael Haley: The 33 year old winger is no stranger to throwing fists, but he is also no stranger to the Rangers. He played 9 games for them way back in the 2012-2013 season and has been reportedly invited to training camp as a tryout. This works for exhibition but is not an option for the season should Lemieux hold out longer.
  2. Matt Beleskey: I know what you are thinking; doesn’t he have to be sent to Hartford for the Rangers to be cap compliant? No! The answer is the Rangers are currently cap compliant with him penciled in. Of course they only have $1M in space to sign both Lemieux and DeAngelo so he won’t be here if either one signs. The 31 year old forward will be a UFA next summer, but could actually help fill Lemieux’s void heading into the season.

Replacing DeAngelo

Finding a suitable replacement for Tony D. is not going to be easy. This is especially so if you want to keep the whole lefty/righty combination as your defensive pairs.

Rykov (KHL)
  1. Joey Keane: The only right-handed defenseman prospect that could fill the hole in DeAngelo’s absence. He certainly can skate and chip in offensively but still looks very green to me.
  2. Brendan Smith: Just like Beleskey above, he currently fits under the cap. The veteran defenseman will have to play the off side but should be able to handle it.
  3. Yegor Rykov: The 22 year old prospect from the KHL looked rock solid in the last Traverse City game. However, being a lefty he or Libor Hajek would have to play the opposite side and that might be too much to ask both rookies.