Too Many Players, Too Few Spots?
The Rangers have been pretty busy since July 1, the first day of free agency. Although their moves have been under the radar, they have been filling out their roster quite well. Did they forget that there is a roster limit?
Glen Sather may have his hands full coming into training camp. Prospects Evgeny Grachev and Dale Weiss are said to be NHL ready. It would be difficult not to offer them spots on the roster after all these years of development.
Recent re-signings Erik Christensen, Vinny Prospal, and Brandon Prust are all but locks to make the team. There are three more spots not available.
When Jody Shelley skipped town for grimier pastures in Philladelphia, Sather went out and scooped up Derek Boogaard to replace him. One more spot gone.
Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, the Norwegian Hobbit, also signed a contract with the Rangers in May, and is expected to be the team's second-line right winger.
Derek Stepan, the Rangers' second-round draft pick in 2008, signed a professional contract last week with New York, and is said to be NHL ready. Another spot gone? See the pattern?
Let's take it one at a time. First off, Boogaard won't be playing every night. Expect him to play about 45-50 games this season. Tortorella has the option of alternating between him and Weiss on the fourth line. Weiss isn't a top-six player, so penciling Boogaard in against a physical team (Philadelphia) is a great option for the team.
I believe the potential odd-man out will be Brian Boyle. Although he is a big, physical defenseman, he brings little-to-no offense on a scoring-deprived team isn't beneficial for anyone. I believe Stepan will take his position on the team much in the same vein as Artem Anisimov did last season, who is sure to be moved up to either the second or third line in his sophomore season.
The team, as it stands now, is stacked with centers. Fortunately, Brandon Dubinsky, Prospal and Chris Drury can all play wing as well.
The forwards playing every night this season will be: Marian Gaborik, Christensen, Prospal, Grachev, Anisimov, Zuccarello-Aasen, Sean Avery, Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Prust and Stepan with Boogaard and Weiss playing the role of Aaron Voros from last season. Unfortunately, Boyle will either find work elsewhere, or learn to call Hartford home.
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