Friday, September 4, 2009
Look Who's Going Camping
The Rangers released their opening roster for training camp (with jersey numbers too!). They can still add players but for right now, the only surprise is defenseman Kyle McLaren. I was willing to deal Petr Prucha for him back in December and would still love to see him make the team. However, McLaren is older, slower and been fighting a bad back for years now so he isn't likely to make the cut to start on Broadway. If he was younger and healthier, he would be a wonderful addition considering there are no other true defensive defensemen. Sather has given him a shot to prove that he is healthy enough to be worth a contract as either an seventh defenseman or a mentor down on the farm.
I figured I would take a look at each player and point out what their chances are:
75 Andres Ambuhl RW - Has to prove he can handle the North American game. A Ranger roster spot would be surprising for this Swiss scorer.
42 Artem Anisimov C - Arty needs to show he can handle the third-line center gig. It is there for the taking for him as this is the big opportunity at the big leagues. He looked wooden and uncomfortable last year when he got in a few guest spots but perhaps getting in at the ground floor will make him more at ease and (maybe, just maybe) a Calder contender.
39 Tyler Arnason C - Arny has to prove that he isn't the goat that Colorado kicked to the curb. He is hoping for the fourth line center slot but a pack position is much more likely.
16 Sean Avery LW - Sean needs to show up and keep up that positive outlook from last season, the one that accepted the benching.
22 Brian Boyle C - Boyle was a project that LA gave up on. He has to show that they made a mistake and not be another Hugh Jessiman.
87 Donald Brashear LW - Brash apparently just has to show up to get a roster spot as the coach and seemingly everyone else but me loves him. Outside of a 20-20-200 season or a career-ending injury to Crosby, Pronger or Tavares, there isn't a thing he could do to get me in his corner. So stop saying I will come around to love him, cause it ain't gonna happen.
36 Dane Byers LW - Byers needs to have a helluva camp to earn a spot on the Rangers but it's possible. He showed in the Calder Cup playoffs that his injury was behind him and now he has to show Torts that he is fast enough to fit in the system. I've been a fan for a while and am pulling for him.
24 Ryan Callahan RW - Perhaps the motivation of the Olympics will help Cally avoid the typical new-contract slump and keep him evolving into a 30 goal scorer.
58 Paul Crowder C - Crowder was the top scorer for Alaska-Anchorage and will have to show that he can handle a second line slot on the Wolf Pack.
79 Devin Didiomete LW - Dediomete used to ride shotgun with Stamkos, can you believe that? You gotta figure that he is headed back to Hartford and will only see the lights on Broadway if he steps up his game and Avery gets ousted.
23 Chris Drury C - The busted hand left a sour taste to last season and Drury has to regain a scoring touch. Perhaps having his boy Kotalik there can help him remember how to score with 7.7 seconds left in big games.
17 Brandon Dubinsky C - The first line center job is just sitting there for Dubi, waiting to be taken. He needs to find some chemistry with Gaborik and prove he is worth a big money contract.
41 Brodie Dupont C - Jess from Prospect Park, the man in the know, said that Dupont needs more seasoning on the farm. A good camp would put him in a good spot with Torts heading into next season.
10 Marian Gaborik RW - Gabby has to pass all physicals, work on finding a chemistry with new linemates and stay healthy!
21 Christopher Higgins LW - Higgins keeps saying how happy he is to be home. Now he has to prove it.
12 Ales Kotalik RW - Everyone knows that Kotalik can skate and shoot. The Czech just has to do it consistently and show an edge that keeps him in good graces with his new coach - the new coach that quickly tired of another mercurial European, Nik Zherdev.
81 Enver Lisin RW - Lisin has to show that he can use his speed for good. Rico Fata was also well known for being one of the fastest folks in the league. Look at where it got him.
73 Corey Locke C - Locke has to fight the perception that he is too small to make the NHL. The former junior star (151 points in 66 games one season) is listed at 5'9, 168 pounds. He may be the most under-hyped of the Ranger signings this offseason if he can make the jump but its a big jump for a little guy.
85 Matt Maccarone C - Go from an undersized guy in Locke to an oversized guy in Maccarone. At 6'7, 235 he is another Boyle without the hype. He played with Staalsie back in Sudbury, then went to college and got a peak at pro life with the Central League's Tulsa Oilers. As long as he doesn't blow it entirely, he is sure to at least make the jump to the ECHL with the Checkers and maybe get a shot at a low-line spot with the Pack.
50 Jordan Owens LW - Owens was with the Pack last season and regularly received rave reviews from Howlings and Prospect Park. While another year in Hartford is in the cards for him, this camp should give a good measure of the progress he has made.
38 Pierre Parenteau LW - It will be a shame if P.A. gets stuck in Hartford again. He has accomplished so much in the AHL and deserves a shot at the bigs. If Torts' claims that all spots are up for grabs, maybe he can finally get a roster spot with the Rangers. But now that we have Kotalik, I doubt it.
20 Vinny Prospal C - Like Dubi, Prospal pretty much has a top line spot awaiting him, he just has to find some chemistry with Gabby. But if Dubi falters, even a little, perhaps he will be able to take the first line center gig for himself.
19 Patrick Rissmiller LW - The former Shark has to prove that he is still capable of NHL-level play. If he still has his wheels, perhaps he can get back to the bigs with a fourth line spot. But I doubt it.
53 Justin Soryal LW - Soryal is a tough kid and can put himself in line for the Ranger enforcer position with a good camp. Sure Brashear has it now, but it is only a matter of time until he gets suspended. Yes, I'm a hater.
34 Aaron Voros LW - When the Rangers signed him I was quite happy because I saw a few of the games that he played across from Gaborik and he played like a star. Then we got him. Less than a month into the season Voros was a sweaty, slow mess who seemed to enjoy getting into fights that he would lose. Torts will still give him a shot at the lineup and Voros has to show that he is capable of playing up to Gabby's level again.
65 Dale Weise RW - Talk about coming out of nowhere. Weise was awesome at Traverse City last year, earned a spot in Hartford and went on to become their Man of the Year. He certainly isn't ready for the NHL yet but another big camp could turn him into an injury call up.
97 Matt Gilroy D - I've said it from Day 1: Gilroy needs to prove he can play with men. It is one thing to make college freshmen look stupid, it is another to make it to Broadway. Some predictions have Gilroy challenging for a first power play unit position, I'd be happy with a fifth defenseman spot.
5 Dan Girardi D - Early last season Girardi regressed when he was paired with Rozy. He was doing too much and it stunted his progress. When he was reunited with Staalsie he snapped out of it but he needs to take that next step and prove that he is a first pairing defenseman.
49 Ilkka Heikkinen D - Like I said with Ambhul, Heikkinen has to prove he can handle the North American game. A Ranger roster spot would be surprising. But Heikkinen played in the SM-liiga in Finland, which is a bit tougher than the Swiss league that Ambhul came from so perhaps he has a step up. We'll see.
4 Kyle McLaren D - See the top. He failed a Philly physical at the trade deadline, so what has changed?
44 Corey Potter D - Potter has to play like he did in his cameo last season. He showed he wasn't easily flustered, he was capable with the puck and he could handle getting hit. He will face a tough battle for the No. 6 defenseman spot but he has the ability to win it.
6 Wade Redden D - Even when Redden was playing his best hockey last season, Sergei Fedorov's shot deflected off of him to win the series against the Caps. He will never live up to his contract but should be able to show that he doesn't suck as bad as did last season.
33 Michal Rozsival D - A few seasons ago Rozy was our No. 1 defenseman. Then there was the hip injury, the loss of Jagr, the addition of Redden and Rozy was a shadow of himself. He has to show he is still able to unleash that good shot from the point and cut down on the godforsaken turnovers.
54 Bobby Sanguinetti D - Bobby has been our blue chip blueline prospect for what seems forever. Hopefully the season in Hartford prepared him to make the big jump. He will be in the fight for the final two defenseman spots.
32 Mike Sauer D - Damn you Paul Mara, damn you to hell. Mara's mistakes against Pittsburgh sent Sauer crashing back to Hartford after a quick cup of coffee in New York. Sauer has to show that it didn't damage his confidence too much and challenge for teh five or six spot.
18 Marc Staal D - Is Staal ready to be the No. 1 defenseman? At times last season he looked like he was but he crashed back to earth in the playoffs. He has to stop being so reluctant to rush the puck because he has the size and skill to be a offensive threat. And his defensive skills have to remain sharp as Ovie is still out there.
74 David Urquhart D - A capable defensive defenseman with Hartford, Urquhart will likely be headed right back there. But he will have more competition this year with all of the other young defenseman so he will have to step up his game.
62 Nigel Williams D - The former second round pick of the Aves should spend a season to get acclimated to the Ranger system with Hartford but, seeing how upset Colorado fans were that we got him, perhaps a spot on the Rangers next year will be in the cards.
96 Chad Johnson G - Chad Nueve-Seis will be in the mix for the back-up Hartford spot with Stajcer and Wiikman but it is just as likely that he will end up down in Charlotte to start off his pro career.
30 Henrik Lundqvist G - No migraines, no family drama, just hockey for the King. He had better be in the best shape of his life because he was clearly worn down after the last Olympics and this team turns into a lottery pick contender without him.
94 Scott Stajcer G - Stajcer will split time with Johnson at Traverse City before the regular training camp even starts. It will be an interesting contrast as he has junior experience while Johnson is coming out of a college program.
40 Stephen Valiquette G - Valley just needs to get into good shape as he will be called upon to relieve Hank for a few more nights than in recent years. Aside from the Dallas debacle and Hockey Night in Hell, which were far from being solely his fault, he has proved to be a capable backup.
71 Miika Wiikman G - Wiikman was the Hartford starter before going down with injury and being supplanted by Zaba. As one of the Pack incumbents, he should be able to hold off Stajcer and Johnson but anything is possible.
31 Matt Zaba G - From all accounts, Zaba was incredible at the end of last season. Hopefully he can keep it up and keep Hartford near the top of the AHL.