The New York Rangers will be traveling west for the remainder of the pre-season, but six players who were training with the team will not be making the trip.
The #NYR have released G Johan Hedberg from his PTO..assigned Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix, Shawn O'Donnell and Brendon Nash to Htfd— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 18, 2013
This leaves 40 players still on the training camp roster who are still competing for 21-23 roster spots.
I never for a second believed that Johan Hedberg truly had a realistic shot of beating out Martin Biron for the backup goaltending job for a number of reasons. The main reason for inviting him, I speculate, was because the Rangers needed another goaltending body for training camp. Perhaps also as insurance in case one of Lundqvist or Biron got injured. The timing of the decision to release him, however, is a bit strange. The Rangers will be playing five pre-season games in six days during their trip out west and, according to Newsday writer Steve Zipay, Vigneault wants to have four goaltenders for the trip. Only three remain on the roster currently. It's possible that Hedberg asked for the release himself, seeing the writing on the wall after strong performances Biron and Talbot. Or perhaps the Rangers did not want to give Hedberg false hope. Nonetheless, this all but assures that Biron will keep his job, with Talbot as the call-up option.
St. Croix and Nicholls did not get into a pre-season game, which is a bit disappointing. Neither guy had a realistic shot of making the roster out of training camp, however, and will be important offensive players for Hartford this season.
Bourque, a third round pick in 2009, turns 23 in January and becomes a free agent at the end of the season. His future with the Rangers organization is very much in doubt.
Finally, there are few players who were notably not removed from the roster. Dylan McIlrath remains despite a poor game last night. McIlrath was a longshot from the beginning to make the team regardless of his performance purely because of the players in front of him. However, Vigneault is wise to keep McIlrath for the road trip. A few more games against tough competition can only help him learn. Michael Kantor, a prospect signed as a free agent last April, survived the cut ahead of some quality forward prospects. He was impressive in a checking line roll last night against the Flyers, showing solid speed and a willingness to battle and forecheck. Kantor has limited upside, but at 21 years old perhaps he isn't far off from becoming a capable 4th-line energy guy. Kantor grew up a Rangers fan, which provides extra reason to root for his success.
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Step and his agent are out of their minds. He had one good HALF OF A SEASON. Give me a break. Would I like him on my team? Yes, of course. This is getting old real fast though. He's hurting the team and at this moment, I hope he has a hard time getting back in the lineup. You haven't proven anything yet Stepan, talk to me after a full 82 game season.
McIIrath played crappy last night.Trying to pinch in too much, trying to make the big hit and going out of his way for it.Clearing conservatively and causing a goal.All due to bad decisions probably based on trying for the big perfomance. Its good he made this cut and now he has to settle down and show us all what kind of a dman he really is.If he calms down and gets smart, he should be alright and play some nice solid games.If hes gonna pinch then he should shoot immediately, he is doing some damage with his rebounds.
Just watching the rewind of the game last night (didn't see it last night). McIlrath's issues looked to mostly be around stick handling. The first goal he tried to play the puck and it jumped over his stick, the 2nd he lost the handle. Yes, they were mistakes, but there's not a defenseman on this team that has a clue of how to handle a bouncing puck. THAT has been the #1 reason why the PP has sucked since Leetch left. Get a chance on net, and it's out of the zone. You ask me, they need someone to work with the defense at all levels on how to use things other than their sticks to stop and settle pucks.
AV says Kristo, Lindberg and Fast are all pushing for spots... Guess no Hrivik for the guys that wanted him unless he has a big week. Also Hank plays entire game Monday in Calgary and Thursday in Vancouver + Biron gets the game Tuesday in Edmonton.
Pleasantly surprised with Kantor's play. Not surprising he's still around.
Talbot's play made Hedberg obsolete. I agree that Biron is the backup and Talbot is insurance.
Shocked McIlrath is still around, cause even with his tough game, it's clear he's not ready. However, I'm very happy he'll be with the team a bit longer, cause I do think his confidence would have been shattered if he was cut after last night. Do I think he has a shot to make this team anytime soon? No. But for all the hard work this kid has put in, it's nice to see the NYR support him, maybe help him get some confidence back and some more experience playing with the big boys.
I think you're right about hedberg. he probably asked to move on. I don't disagree with any of these moves and I'm glad McIllrath stuck around if not no other reason to not bruise his confidence. Hartford should have a good team this year! I can't wait for them to roll through my town!
Another disappointing showing for St. Croix. Hoping he can continue to develop with the Whale.
Totally agree with you on McIlrath. Glad he'll get a chance to redeem himself after a forgettable game against the Flyers last night.
@blueshirt21 You poor misguided soul, Step is the best center man on the Rangers and he will only get better. What's wrong with holding out for what the guy is worth? Get real man, you'd do the same in he's place unless you're an idiot. Just saying.
@fs2020 This. Spot on. He needs to relax and play his D game. Maybe he's worrying too much about Vigneaults Dmen rushing in style. He won't make team with Falk and Johnson but he could impress. He isn't yet.
@gravey94 I don't want to go into detail (it would just be too long), but I watched DM diligently all game long (cause I really want him to succeed), and every one of his miscues was caused by his lack of speed, more specifically his first step speed. His lack of first step speed was also the reason that he rarely had puck possession all night, instead having to be rid of the puck too soon because he had no time and space cause there was too much pressure on him.
It's not fair to compare DM to Leetch, but I'm going to for the sake of my point. Leetch was hardly a speed demon, but he was such a great skater and had a phenomenal first step, more than some people gave him credit for. Because he had this explosive first step, he could always get to the puck, create space and time for himself, and thus set himself up with many options. It also allowed him to recover extremely well from a bouncing puck or a fluke deflection, and enabled him to be very sound defensively.
Now with Leetch, I'm talking elite talent and DM will never be close to Leetch. But it's the point of how important first step speed is in the NHL, especially for a defenseman, and DM just does not have it at this point, and I'm not sure he'll ever have it cause I'm not sure first step speed is something that can be taught.
I'm really pulling for this guy, cause like I've said, he seems like a really good kid and I would love his toughness and attitude on the team. But that's all secondary if he can't keep up with the NHL game and is a liability.
But he's still young, and I really hope he can get there. He certainly has time, and he has progressed. Just not sure the skill set is there.
@KevinDeLury St. Croix scares me. Nobody seems to notice Bourque is just never gonna make this team.. St. Croix is tiny like Bourque.
@shoot_the_goalie @gravey94 I get it about the first step and if it were MDZ, then I'd be hugely concerned because I think 1st step is critical for an Offensive D-man. For McIlrath, it's more about positioning and stick work. None of the successful defensive d-men have great first steps, but they're solid in their positioning and disruption of plays. McIlrath needs work on that, but it can most certainly be taught.
@shoot_the_goalie @gravey94 I understand the point you're trying to make but comparing McIlrath to Leetch is a lost cause beyond simply trying to reach Leetch's level; they're completely different defensemen. You could make the same observations about Beukeboom in comparison to Leetch. Of course, that wasn't Beukeboom's game. McIlrath has a very good slapshot and decent vision, so he's capable of putting up points, but being an abusive, defensive defenseman will be his bread and butter. He needs to be physically and mentally capable of keeping up with the speed of the game, but only to the levels that similar defensemen like Beukeboom, Chara, and Orpik had/have to. Some more time in Hartford will do him good.
@gravey94 @shoot_the_goalie imho, I think all NHL caliber players have good 1st steps, some more than others, with the exception of goalies and enforcers, the latter being a dying breed since the game has picked up in speed and skill. Good positioning and good stick work is directly related to a good first step/good skating, and it's why DM's positioning was terrible last night (and mediocre when playing for the Whale) He was woefully exposed against pre-season NHLers.
I hope you're right, and I hope DM can prove the scouts wrong (who pretty much say his positioning is not good because of his skating ability). I hope it can be taught and I hope he can close the gap. Like I said, I really like the kid and we all know we could use a nasty d-man.
@Herman_NYRBlog @shoot_the_goalie @gravey94 I agree, which is why I prefaced that it wasn't fair to compare DM to Leetch. DM will never be Leetch, and he doesn't have to be. I was only trying to make the point of the importance of the first step at the NHL level.
DM's skating ability reminds me of Beuke or Purinton, maybe even Bickel. It's borderline. Sure, Beuke had a solid NHL career, but the game is much faster now, and not sure Beuke would have succeeded in today's game, but that's speculation. Not to mention Beuke had Leetch as a partner, which I'm sure helped his career.
Chara and Orpik have really good first steps, and Orpik is actually quite quick. Chara is also very mobile, and has the excellent long reach to boot, so I wouldn't classify those guys in the same class as Beuke or DM for that matter.
It just goes back to the fact that DM's first step is not good right now, not good for any NHL caliber player and it was glaring last night. You can't hit/punish/bruise the opposition if you can't keep up with them. And in today's NHL, you can't just be a bruiser, you need to be able to play the puck quickly too. (Why Purinton was done once they opened up the ice with the rule changes.)
I was hoping he was close, but from what I've seen with preseason and the Whale, he's got a long way to being NHL caliber. Whether he can close up the gap, we'll have to wait and see.