What will our Rangers roster look like come opening day?
Glen Sather was a very busy GM this off-season and the Rangers will start the 2009-2010 season with a drastically different look than they had finishing off the 2008-2009 campaign. The revolving door to the Rangers locker room is still spinning thanks to the never ending slew of additions and subtractions we saw go down this off-season. Let’s go through a quick recap of the complete overhaul the Rangers roster went through since the regular season ended.
Subtractions (in no particular order): Zherdev, Gomez, Naslund, Mara, Dawes, Korpikoski, Sjostrom, Betts, Orr, Antropov, Kalinin, Prucha, Morris, Fritsche. For those keeping score at home, that totals 14 players lost from last season’s roster to trades/free agency/retirement.
Additions: Gaborik, Higgins, Arnason, Boyle, Brashear, Kotalik, Lisin, Gilroy, McDonagh. That totals 9 new players that could end up on this year’s opening day roster. Simple math, and a very honest John Tortorella tell us that aside from the new guys like Gaborik, Higgins, Brashear and Kotalik, this year’s training camp will be a dog fight amongst the other Ranger hopefuls (especially the young guns) in donning the Rangers’ blue come opening night. Spots will be earned and lost in training camp.
Given all the action we saw this summer off the ice, let’s take a look at what The Rangers’ opening day roster might look like on the ice. Keep in mind two things when reading what I think the roster might be come October: 1) I am assuming Brandon Dubinsky will sign a new contract 2) I have been wrong before.
Line 1-Higgins-Dubinsky-Gaborik: Dubinsky is going to be given the chance to run the show as the #1 Center. Prospal was signed this off-season as a winger for the most part, and a center in case Dubinsky fails to produce as the #1 center. Higgins seems to be a good fit for the top line based on his aggressive style and his hard work in the corners. He could create a lot of room out there for Gaborik to work his magic.
Line 2-Prospal-Drury-Callahan: Callahan and Drury have complementing styles that could prove to be a powerful combo; throw Prospal on the opposite wing (hoping he has an up year) and this line could produce a good amount of points. Should this line fail to produce, it’s very possible we could see Drury and Kotalik reunited on the same line like the old times in Buffalo.
Line 3-Avery-Anisimov-Kotalik: Tortorella has made it very clear that the young guys in the organization have just as good a shot to make the team as the veterans. That being said, I think Anisimov will be the guy to shine in training camp and get the nod for the start of the season. Avery and Kotalik are both aggressive wingers that could create a lot of scoring opportunities when they are out there; having a skilled center man in between them would be a good way to get them going offensively.
Line 4-Brashear-Boyle-Lisin: The Rangers as a team, got pushed around a lot last year (Remember Torts recently called them soft, I don’t think he was only talking conditioning). Colton Orr was really the only heavy weight on last year’s team that could go out there to protect and serve. Now that The Rangers have replaced Orr with Brashear, I think using Boyle at center for the fourth line (6’7 244 Lbs.) gives the Rangers some added toughness out there when it is needed. Tortorella really enjoyed having Sjostrom’s speed out there with the tough guys, giving the fourth line a more versatile look than other fourth lines around the league. I think Lisin could prove to be a nice replacement for Sjostrom in that regard.
D1-Staal-Girardi: This pairing is the clear number one for the Rangers this year and for years to come. I am very excited to see how they fair this year.
D2-Redden-Rozsival: Tortorella will stick with this pairing as he did for much of last season. When talking about the pairing during the playoffs, Torts had this to say, “Reds and Rozie really stabilized it [game 1 after a bad penalty call at the start of the game].” This pair was really solid in the playoffs and I think we see Torts go back to it come the start of the season.
D3-Del Zotto-Gilroy: If the Rangers have showed one consistent organizational trait over the last few years, it’s a dependency on their young, up and coming stars (especially at the blue line). Like they leaned on Girardi and Staal (look how that turned out) I think we see Torts lean on Del Zotto and Gilroy to showcase their talents and get some NHL experience to grow on.
Honorable mentions: Grachev and Voros. Both could be options down the line if they come out strong in camp but I feel as if Torts will go with other options before giving these two the nod. Grachev could benefit from some time in the AHL and Voros has not really proved himself to be anything more than a punching bag for opponents.
And that concludes my thoughts on what our New York Rangers will look like come opening day. Let’s discuss like only us “Boneheads” can. Carp, thanks so much for giving me this honor and opportunity to fill in for you today, I really enjoyed writing this for everyone to read and discuss.