For the past few weeks, Rangers Nation has debated and speculated what the Blueshirts opening night roster would eventually look like. And today, it all came to a head.
1. So let’s get to the cuts:
And of course, Rangers fans reacted rationally…
2. Let’s take a look at exclusive video of 18-year old Philip Chytil learning he made the cut on his way to practice this morning…
In all seriousness, Chytil, who only two weeks ago looked like he might miss significant time playing hockey this season due to a leg injury, basically forced his way on the team with his play this preseason.
But this is Alain Vigneault we’re talking about, Chytil is probably going to start the season on the fourth line, right?
Chytil will at the very least get the nine games the Rangers are afforded before having to make the decision to keep him in the NHL or send him back overseas. It’ll be up to the 2017 21st overall pick to convince Jeff Gorton that he deserves to be here for the entire season. Even if Chytil does impress, you have to wonder how an 18-year old will hold up over the course of an 82-game NHL season. Could be risky to his development and the success of the Rangers this year.
3. As far as the Rangers other first round pick, yeah, not so much…
Look, I would have liked Andersson to stick around for the 9-game trial, but based on what I saw this preseason, he was going to be nothing more than a fourth line player getting between 7-10 minutes per night this year. So it makes sense for him to go back to Sweden, play big minutes in various roles and prepare to make the Rangers roster next season.
You can’t blame Gorton and company for erring on the side of caution with an 18-year old prospect.
4. You have to assume this was also the thinking behind Vinni Lettieri being shipped to Hartford while Paul Carey and Andrew Dejardins battle it out for the 12th forward position until Jesper Fast is ready to return from injury.
Sure, you hate to see a player who was more deserving of a roster spot getting the short end of the stick, but providing Lettieri with a bigger role in Hartford will benefit him and team in the long run.
5. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Rangers fans aren’t thrilled that Desjardins is still hanging around.
But he’s nothing more than an insurance policy until Fast returns. Unless of course he ends up outplaying Carey and/or Lettieri. Hey, with Tanner Glass gone, the Blueshirt Faithful needs someone on the 4th line to blame for Rangers loses. Desjardins would be a perfect fit.
6. The situation wasn’t all that different on defense as the Rangers opted for giving Neal Pionk more responsibility in the AHL over limited minutes in the NHL. The organization made the same decision with both Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei and look how they turned out, so I get it.
Although, the Rangers would be vastly superior having a guy on the backend who can start the transition game with outlet passes like this…
7. It wasn’t all bad news for those Rangers fans looking to infuse the blueline with some youth as Anthony DeAngelo looks to have found a spot on the roster and the third pairing…
8. However, Nick Holden has been dealing with the flu, so who knows what the 3rd pairing will ultimately look like on opening night.
The Rangers are in a tough spot with Holden because coming off a 34-point season, he likely has some trade value, but if the club sends him up to the press box to rot, potential suitors may become weary.
Unless, of course, AV decides to pair Holden with DeAngelo. Meaning…
9. …the declining Marc Staal could be the odd man out. Like it or not, Staal’s no movement clause and $5.7M per till 2021 means he’ll be on the Rangers roster the entire season, but maybe, just maybe AV finally learns to limit the veteran’s games and minutes.
This is the consequence of Jeff Gorton not buying out Staal this offseason. Now the Rangers are stuck with a shell of a former great defenseman instead of a younger more skilled Pionk.
Hey, maybe the Rangers GM can 1) convince Staal to waive his NMC 2) be willing to eat half the defenseman’s salary and add a sweetener (prospect and/or pick) to a trade 3) find a team desperate for a broken down defenseman.
10. All those issues are minor, however, in comparison to what happens if Chytil struggles and the Rangers decide to send him back overseas. The big question mark at center ice that loomed over the Blueshirts all offseason will reappear, but now right smack dab in the middle of the regular season. Not good.
To me the easiest solution would be to move Miller to center, bump Vesey up the line-up and recall Lettieri. While losing Miller’s production on the wing isn’t ideal, unless the Avalanche are trading Duchene to the Rangers for Staal, this is their most realistic option.
11. Having said all that, the Rangers have 10 players 26-years old or younger on roster right now along with Andersson, Pionk, Lettieri & Shestyorkin on the way. So much for the narrative that the club’s window is closing. The future of this franchise is bright.
12. In other positive news, I thought Pavelec had a strong preseason and should, for the time being, give the coaching staff confidence to provide Lundqvist with the necessary rest to keep him fresh throughout the season.