With training camp under way, there are some forwards who are pretty much guaranteed a job with the team.
Players like Gomez, Drury, Naslund, and Zherdev—among others—are already guaranteed spots on the big club this season. But other players are battling for spots on the fourth line—mainly Aaron Voros and Patrick Rissmiller.
With a spot on the wing up for grabs, there seems to be little room for error among the players battling for spots. While both players have different upsides, only one of them will earn a consistent spot on the roster with the Rangers this year.
With Betts already penciled in for the fourth-line center spot, and players like Fritsche, Callahan, and Sjostrom already battling to stay off of the fourth line, it is clear that there is only room for one player to split time with Colton Orr.
Patrick Rissmiller, who will turn 30 this October, originally went undrafted. The Belmont, Massachusetts native has played just 180 career games since the 2003-04 season, all of which with San Jose.
He has played just two full seasons with the Sharks, and has been known for his defensive style of play. In his first full year, he posted seven goals, 15 assists, and a plus-one rating, but last season, he dropped to eight goals, nine assists, and a minus-eight.
Maybe a change of scenery, and a defensive system can help him get back on track—but even with his solid defensive play, he's not guaranteed a full time spot with the big club. He was signed to a one-year deal, so it's do or die in this camp for Patrick.
Aaron Voros, 27 years old, was an eighth round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2001, and has signed a three-year deal with the Rangers.
In 55 games with Minnesota his first NHL season, Aaron posted seven goals, seven assists, and a minus-seven rating. His willingness to fight also helped him notch 141 penalty minutes.
By season's end last year, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire had used him on the power play at times as well.
Voros is hoping that his willingness to fight and get dirty on the ice will make the Rangers bump him in to their tough-guy role and show Colton Orr the door.
Rismiller has put up solid offensive numbers in the last two seasons with San Jose, but recently his plus-minus rating has dipped. Most people like to see a good plus-minus in their defensive specialists.
However, Rissmiller did play in a more offensive system in San Jose then he would be playing in here. His offensive side should help his center Blair Betts improve his offensive numbers.
Why not Rissmiller?
The reason the Rangers wouldn't want Rissmiller is the reason they might want Voros. Dressing Rissmiller every day, on a line with Betts and Sjostrom/Fritsche/Callahan, might make New York one of the softer teams in the NHL—and you can bet that other teams will take notice, and advantage.
As I mentioned, toughness. While New York has Orr, who is one of the better fighters in the league, it's getting clearer that he won't be a normal fixture on the roster this year. (Although in training camp, he and Betts were on a line with Korpikoski.)
While Voros is far from a top heavyweight fighter, he at least would give someone a second thought before they take a run at the other Rangers. He also managed to pick up 14 points, playing for Jacques Lemaire.
He was able to do that while being one of the tough guys on a team that is known for playing a system that is defense first, second, and third, relegating the offense to fourth.
Why not Voros?
While he managed to put up just about the same offensive numbers that Rissmiller did, he also managed to get a minus-seven rating playing in the same defensive-minded system he scored seven goals and seven assists in. While it was his first year in the NHL, its something he must improve on if he hopes to play in the NHL with the Rangers this year.
So who gets the spot?
I have previously said that the older, and more experienced—not really—Patrick Rissmiller seems to be the favorite for the spot, but Aaron Voros, a cancer survivor has slowly started to change my mind.
For a team that desperately needs toughness, Aaron Voros offers a chance to not be bullied around. Aaron Voros is also signed to a three-year deal, while Rissmiller is only signed to a one-year deal, which most likely means that Voros is likely a bigger part of the Rangers long-term plans.