So everybody the Rangers wanted to get signed is signed. There could be a buyout in the next day or two, but it’s unlikely. There could still be a trade … which might necessitate a buyout if more salary is coming this way. We’ll see.
But, more or less, this is your team heading into training camp.
Since camp and the all-road preseason is going to morph into a European working vacation and a quick pit-stop at home, a game on Long Island, and then another trip to Western Canada, the Rangers are more than likely going to have to keep some extra bodies around for the exhibitions, and maybe even a full roster for the start of the season.
However, once they get through that and open the doors to the partially renovated Garden on Oct. 27, it’s very likely that coach John Tortorella goes back to his usual ways. Which means not a lot of extra players sitting around. Which means, this year more than most of the last, oh, 14 years, there might be some tough decisions coming.
Since this is pretty much the team we expect, then, let’s jump ahead. Let’s assume that a bunch of the players in training camp will automatically be on the roster, unless they get hurt, unless they play unbelievably poorly during camp/preseason (and barring a trade).
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Captain Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Derek Stepan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp are definites up front, and that Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer are definites on the back side, and that Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron will be 1 and 2 in goal.
That’s 10 forwards, four defensemen, two goalies. That leaves room for, maybe, three more forwards and, maybe, three more d-men once the season returns to normalcy in late October.
So I have two questions for you. First is the easy one. Are you happy with this team as it is? Can you live with this roster going into the season? OK, that’s two questions, but it’s really the same question.
The other is this: Who will be the other three or four forwards, and the other two or three defensemen? Don’t worry about salary cap issues, because there are plenty of ways around those.
Pick from these forwards: Sean Avery, Mats Zuccarello, Wojtek Wolski, Erik Christensen. Or choose another player who might make a big impression in camp: A Carl Hagelin or a Christian Thomas, for example (remembering that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a rookie to play 4-6 minutes a night while he develops his pro game). Or choose from somebody in Connecticut.
On D, choose from: Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon, Steve Eminger, Pavel Valentenko, Garnet Exelby (just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention) or somebody else to make the jump (again, here, it’s possible that a player like Erixon gets the McDonagh treatment and goes to the Whale for the start of the season until he shows he’s NHL ready).
Pick your 20 players, figuring 13 forwards and seven D. (and God, am I hoping I didn’t leave anybody out).
AP Photo, above. Fore, right!