With the start of the season looming, The New York Rangers have their roster trimmed down to 25 players. While none of the cuts were especially shocking, it is unfortunate that certain players did not step up to the challenge.
Rookie defenseman Tim Erixon is a big part of the team’s future plans. He was acquired before the draft this year, in a deal that sent along two second round picks, and forward prospect Roman Horak to Calgary. He was made available after he and Calgary could not come to terms on an Entry Level Contract.
“I think he has a bright future,” Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella said while explaining the demotion. “He’s got to get used to the small buildings. He had a good camp, he improved each day… I know everybody talked about him stepping in and playing but that’s a very difficult thing to do in the NHL, step in and play, especially on defense. The most important thing is getting him playing immediately.”
Among the other cuts were forward prospect Ryan Bourque. Bourque also had a strong camp, and showed that he may be in the Rangers future plans sooner rather than later. He needs to add strength however, before he becomes a New York Rangers mainstay.
The Rangers are in a win now mentality, and showed it in the offseason with the free agent signings of Brad Richards and Mike Rupp. Unfortunately for the youngsters vying for spots, there just wasn’t room.
A casualty of the lack of roster space was forward Dale Weise. Weise plays a hard nosed game with an edge perfectly suited for a teams bottom six. He battles on every single play. With his demotion, there is likely a chance he is picked up on waivers. Even Tortorella admits he may be ready for the NHL.
“I’m not sure what the rules are. If somebody picks him up, good for him. He wants to play in the NHL. We think he will play in the NHL,” Tortorella explained.
With Marc Staal’s absence due to chronic headaches as a result of a hit he suffered from his brother Eric back in February, it left spots for defenseman Stu Bickel, and Brendan Bell. Bell was very impressive in Albany to start the season, and has played a consistent defensive game, and has chirped in some offense.
Bell set up a goal by Mike Rupp yesterday with a pretty flip pass through the neutral zone. Tortorella admitted that he was impressed, “That was a good play. It was a set breakout. He read the ice and made a good play. That was a pretty big goal. They were mounting some momentum. It was a good play all around.”
Concerns over the health of Marc Staal are increasing by the day. Headaches lingered all summer, and have kept him out of a lot of training camp. And as camp goes on, the updates are becoming fewer and fewer, showing a lack of total progress.
Fortunately Staal has been skating in Connecticut with the team’s AHL affiliate. He has stayed away from contact drills while he deals with the day-to-day pain.
“It’s kind of, right now, it’s skate and see how I feel and then kind of go from there. If I I’m not feeling ready to play a game, it’s doubtful that I’ll make it over there (Europe). I’ll know more (Saturday) as it goes on.”
With the season right around the corner the Rangers almost have their full roster in place. Now it’s time for them to prove to Rangers brass that they made the right decisions with their final roster.