As far back as July, I was told the Rangers were most likely to carry just six defensemen. The final roster moves today confirmed that is their plan at least to start this season.
Zipay reports from Prague that backliners Corey Potter and Brian Fahey “were the team’s final cuts before tomorrow’s opener”:http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/blog/ (Miika Wiikman stays with the team as a third goalie through the end of the weekend, and then will be sent down as well). Neither player is required to go through waivers, so it makes the decision a fairly easy one.
So now the Rangers carry 15 forwards and six defensmen, which is hardly the ideal ratio. And it raises further questions about what exactly the team was thinking with some of its free-agent signings. This is not a knock on Aaron Voros or Patrick Rissmiller, both of whom were signed on July 1, and who could end up being productive additions to the lineup (Voros as a poor man’s Sean Avery; Rissmiller a rich man’s Ryan Hollweg)
But I maintain the one thing this team didn’t need at the end of last season was any more third and fourth-line forwards, especially if you’re operating under the assumption that Lauri Korpikoski would at least contend for an NHL job.
Throw in the trade for Dan Fritsche, who the team acquired alongside Nikolai Zherdev, and the team still has too many interchangeable players. Perhaps it becomes an asset at the trade deadline. But in the meantime, it puts the team in an unneccessary salary cap predicament, which explains both the need for just six defensemen, and perhaps even the absence of another marquee forward.
In other news:
<li>Judging by the lines today, it looks Rissmiller, Fritsche and Petr Prucha could be the healthy scratches tomorrow. Here’s what Zip had:
As much as Tom Renney has said these games are all about the four points, I just can’t see the coach scratching Prucha in his homeland for both games. So if he sits tomorrow, I’d expect him to play on Sunday.
Update, 10:25 a.m.: Zipay has a note about “Prucha angrily blowing off a TV interview after learning he won’t be in the lineup tomorrow”:http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/blog/.
<li>The word on the captain selection is it will be done at a team dinner tonight. Everyone “is assuming it will be Chris Drury”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/sports/hockey/03rangers.html?_r=1&oref=slogin, but we’ll have more on that later.
On a related note, wouldn’t it be awkward if Renney announces, “And our new team captain is…” and Drury starts walking up, and then the coach says, “Blair Betts!”? OK, that’s not likely to happen…
<li>Congrats to the Korpedo, Lauri Korpikoski, on cracking the NHL roster. Of course, this means he now faces the pressure of extending his streak of scoring a goal in every single NHL game he’s played. Fine, it’s only been one game so far, but you know he’s thinking about it.
By the way, can we convince the kid to officially change his name to”The Korpedo”? Just one name. Like Cher, or Sinbad. That’s how you make your mark.
I should be charging for this type of advice….