Currently under contract the Rangers have seven players who played center for a substantial amount of time last season. These include: Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal, Erik Christensen, Chris Drury, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, and Todd White. Out of these seven players only Dubsinky and Prospal were really used as wingers at any point during the season.
Dubinsky, just 24, has made small improvements over his first three seasons going from 40-41-44 points and hitting the 20 goal mark for the first time last season. He plays a tough two-way game at center, but it appears his time is up at the position. He seemed to add a little more offense at the wing, and could start the season in the second line left wing role where he is going to have to take a big leap forward this season.
Prospal was a great find last season for the low price of $1.1 million dollars! Like Dubi he played both center and wing last season, but appears John Tortorella prefers him as a wing. I wouldn't be shocked if one or Dubi take a center role, but I think both would be better off on a wing.
I am one of the bigger Christensen believers. He has all the skills needed to be a great center with amazing hands, passing, and skating ability all he needs to do is perform on a consistent basis and I still think he could put up a 40+ point season if he would shoot more. Add in his ability in the shootout and I think he needs a spot on the roster.
The captain will obviously keep his job as a center. Third line duties should probably work for him again where he will continue to be a solid, but not great player he is being paid to be.
I liked what I saw from this kid a lot. He has tons of potential just watch this goal from preseason last year to see what he is capable of. If he sees more time this year his statistical output could skyrocket.
A lot of people think he might be the odd man out, but because of other factors he might sneak in as the 4th line center again. He'll never live up to his first round hype, but I like him on the penalty kill and fourth line where he is adequate.
White was just acquired for Brashear and Rismiller and could be the one on his way out. The 35-year-old is one year removed from a 73 point season, but his hefty contract and injury concerns could earn him a buyout unless he really really impresses in camp.
If it was up to me I would run the lines as such:
Alex Frolov—Erik Christesen—Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky—Artem Anisimov—Vinny Prospal
Sean Avery—Chris Drury—Ryan Callahan
Derek Boogaard—Brian Boyle—Brandon Prust
I would really like to see Prust with more ice time, but I just don't see it happening and Todd White being the guy left out from the roster with Mats Zuccarello—Aasen going down to Hartford. There is a lot to figure out in camp which should make it exciting to watch how things shape up.