“Congratulations on your fantastic weekend, Nigel. Now go get ‘em in Hartford!”
It might not be as blunt as that, but you wonder how Tom Renney tackles his roster now that Dawes has made such a strong case over the past few days. Granted, it was only the preseason. But that was all anyone had to go on, and Dawes’ three assists on Friday and clutch goal on Saturday would be an odd jumping off-point for a demotion.
I say that and yet I still have a hard time seeing where he fits in. If you agree that an offensive-minded forward like Dawes serves no purpose on a checking fourth line, that means he has to be among the Rangers top six wings.
But who does he replace? Brendan Shanahan? Not going to happen. Ryan Callahan? Impossible. Some have thrown out the name Petr Prucha, and while the third-year forward might be the most expendable of the bunch, he’s still a wing who has scored 52 goals in his first two seasons, and who has made noticable strides at the other end of the rink as well.
In other words, I don’t envy Renney or Glen Sather right about now. It might well be that they just send Dawes down to start the year, but then jump at the chance to bring him up if someone else falters or gets hurt.
The only other option is to carry seven defensemen (meaning Thomas Pock goes to Hartford) and keep Dawes as a 14th forward. But if that solves the roster dilemma, it still doesn’t help figure out how you get the guy in the lineup.