It’s 90 degrees and I’m at a Jet game, not exactly an indication that hockey training camp is now just 48 hours away (Reason 1,964 I like covering hockey more than football: people who should keep their shirts on aren’t tempted otherwise at hockey games).
But here we are. The Rangers have their golf outing tomorrow, followed by physicals and interviews on Tuesday, and then they take the ice for their first formal workouts of the 2008-09 season. Even stranger, we’re now inside of three weeks before the puck drops in Prague. That may seem like a lot of time seeing how players have already been skating together for a couple of weeks. But there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered before then.
<li>Shanny or Sundin? It is now reasonable to expect that the Rangers will sign one of the graying forwards. Who knows, maybe even both remain on Glen Sather’s radar. I would still put Sundin as only a remote possibility, and again, it’s important to emphasize that the Rangers would have to work some salary cap magic to make it happen. But until I see him either a) slipping on another team’s jersey, or b) crying at a podium announcing his retirement, the issue won’t go away.
<li>Who’s with who? Let’s be clear that all of us — myself included — put WAY too much stock in line combinations. That said, the inability to get Jaromir Jagr on the same page with either Scott Gomez or Chris Drury was a problem that dogged the team through most of the early part of last season (and may have even contributed to Jagr’s departure). It’s by no means essential to lock into anything right away (although I do think Gomez with Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev is a formidable line), but it is important to at least see signs of chemistry between different players. Otherwise the tinkering will continue through the early part of the schedule, and a team’s confidence can suffer as a result.
<li>Which prospect has a chance of making this season’s roster? So much of this depends on what the Rangers do on the Shanahan and Sundin front. And unlike last year, when Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, and Nigel Dawes were obvious candidates to make the jump, there doesn’t seem to be the same urgency with the likes of Lauri Korpikoski, Greg Moore, or Corey Potter. But I do expect someone from Hartford to nail down an NHL job (heck, even Hugh Jessiman’s name has been tossed about). And it may be even an issue that the Rangers paint themselves into such a tight salary cap corner that they have no choice but to go young and cheap in a couple of spots.Â Some might say that’s one of the cap’s blessings.
Anyway, a couple of things to chew on before players lace them up. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a football game to cover…