Gentlemen (and ladies), start your second-guessing.
First, what we know:
We know Nigel Dawes, Artem Anisimov, and Al Montoya were all just reassigned to Hartford.
We know that defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, who’s been in limbo for the better part of a week, was finally placed on waivers, and will go to Hartford if he clears.
We know that former first-round draft pick Marc Staal will be part of the opening night roster, as will Brandon Dubinsky, who will likely begin the season at third-line center.
We know the Rangers, for the time being at least, will carry eight defensemen, opting to keep Thomas Pock in New York.
Now, what we can surmise:
That the decision didn’t take Tom Renney (and Glen Sather and Jim Schoenfeld) long. Granted, it’s safe to say this was discussed throughout camp, so it’s not like everyone just started thinking about it over lunch today. But if the weekend — and specifically, Dawes’ strong performance over the weekend — appeared to complicate things, it didn’t take long to sort out.
That the concern about not having a spot for Dawes on the first three lines was legitimate. On talent, or merit, alone, Dawes is one of the 12 best forwards in the Rangers organization. But Renney must have concluded he’s not the type of player you stash on the fourth line, or worse, bench for games on end. Hence, he will begin the season in Hartford.
That the combination of Montoya’s NHL salary, and the expected heavy workload for Henrik Lundqvist, were the deciding factors in keeping Stephen Valiquette in New York. As with Dawes, on merit alone, Montoya deserved the job. But maybe not if the job was playing 10 games all season when he could be developing further in Hartford.
That none of these moves are set in stone. We learned this last year with Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan. I still think Dawes is the first call-up, and that could be just a few games into the season. And as Renney said today, there’s always the chance the No. 3 goalie — in this instance, Montoya — could be brought in for a spot start.