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The Rangers may not have any elite-prospects (save maybe Chris Kreider), but the number of potentially NHL-ready players in the system is growing rapidly.
J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Danny Kristo, Marek Hrivik, Michael St. Croix and Dylan McIlrath could all make the jump sooner than later.
Barring any trades, there's most likely only one or two spots for these rookies to battle for. This should make camp extremely competitive.
Last season should serve as a warning. It doesn't matter how good things look on paper heading into a season. Depth is going to be tested with injuries, and, had the Rangers had more of it last year, perhaps things would've gone a little differently.
For the rookies, this camp isn't intriguing just for traditional reasons.
Kristo rejoins three of his former 2010 U.S. World Junior teammates—Kreider, Derek Stepan and Ryan Bourque—for a gold-medal reunion.
Fast and Lindberg, teammates for Sweden at the 2011 World Juniors, join fellow Swedes Carl Hagelin and Henrik Lunqdvist. Lindberg isn't just competing for a roster spot with the Rangers; he's competing for a roster spot on Sweden's Olympic team with Hagelin and Lundqvist this year, too.
Given the success and youth in front of him, McIlrath enjoyed an under-the-radar but successful campaign in Connecticut last year. With Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, John Moore, Michael Del Zotto, Justin Falk and Aaron Johnson all up for new contracts at the end of the year, having an impressive camp could go a long way to pushing one or more of those players out in 2014-15.
And, of course, dark horses like Hrivik and Croix can't be ignored. Both had impressive seasons with their respective clubs in 2012-13.
Hrivik might have had a shot at playing some time in the NHL last season had it not been for a concussion he suffered the night before the lockout came to an end. A concussion he suffered in the summer made for a slow start in Connecticut last year, and despite missing time and the slow start, he managed 26 points in 40 games with the Whale.
St. Croix has had back-to-back 90-plus point seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. The undersized center (5'11", 179 pounds) will need some time in the AHL before he comes close to NHL action, but the 20-year-old's first camp under contract should be an exciting time for him.