Today is the day! The New York Rangers are officially back on the ice as training camp starts today. Earlier this week the Rangers released their camp roster.
They enter camp with 35 skaters and 5 goalies. The new NHL rule allows for a team to carry 23 players on the NHL roster with another six players on a taxi squad. Lets take a look at the positional battles:
With 29 total players making up the NHL roster and taxi squad and carrying three goalies most likely that leaves 35 skates battling it out for 26 spots. Here are the projected lines upfront.
The biggest battle in camp with be on the fourth line. Can Di Guiseppe and Howden stay in the lineup? Can new signee Kevin Rooney crack the lineup as a penalty killing ace? Does Tim Gettinger get a look? He was the first man called up from Hartford last year when the Rangers had an injury. I think the best battle to watch is Howden versus Barron for the fourth line Center position. Barron had quite the college career (ECAC Player of the Year) and is highly thought of in the organization. Howden came over the Rangers as a top prospect from Tampa but has yet to make that next jump in his game. An interesting player to watch out for is Anthony Greco. Greco is a home town guy born in Queens and is extremely fast. He has shown a scoring touch in the AHL scoring 30 goals two years ago with Springfield.
This is where the roster gets really interesting. After the top four there are about six guys with a shot to play in the third pairing. So let’s look at the obvious.
Then its TBA-TBA. There are veterans Jack Johnson and Brendan Smith. Both have had their struggles over the past few seasons. I think this would be the most likely final pairing if the Rangers want to play it safe or just have none of the young players really stick out in camp. The young trio of K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, and Tarmo Reunanen will get long looks in camp to see their growth from last year. All three have a chance to slide into the final pairing. We should see all three get a shot at some point during the season. Another home town guy that should make an impact on the team is Anthony Bitetto. Bitetto played 51 games last year for Winnipeg and is a hard hitting stay-at-home defenseman. There is a lot to be determined these next two weeks with this unit.
This is the easiest unit to predict. Barring injury, it will be Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev sharing the net. Former New Jersey Devil Keith Kindaid signed over the off-season and will give the Rangers a veteran option for their taxi squad. Adam Huska and Tyler Wall should share the crease down in Hartford.