Rangers further trim the roster

By Leslie Treff

Although many prospects finished the early morning skate saying that they
felt lucky to have stayed in the New York Ranger training camp as long as they did, there was
disappointment on many a face today as the Rangers announced the players that they
were either sending to the Hartford training camp or back to their junior
clubs.

In all, the Rangers reassigned 21 players. Center Brandon Dubinsky, who according
to Assistant General Manager Don Maloney “had a terrific camp… of all the
young guys, he has played really well,” was sent back to the Portland Winter Hawks. Maloney
explained that in a normal year with nine preseason games, Dubinsky had performed
well enough to start the preseason with the team, but that with this year’s
shortened preseason, the Rangers decided to send him back to junior after camp,
with the hopes that he will do well this year, earning a professional contract. Dubinsky was a second round pick in 2004.

The other player sent back to his junior team was invitee Tommy Maxwell, to Medicine Hat. According to Maloney, “Maxwell had a good camp [and] played hard.” Maxwell and the Rangers staff had a discussion about Maxwell being sent to Hartford, but he decided he would prefer to return to juniors.

The following 19 players were sent to the Hartford training camp: Lee
Falardeau, Steve MacIntyre, Daniel Sparre, Dan Cavanaugh, Jakub Petruzalek, Dwight
Helminen, Bruce Graham, Colby Genoway, Rick Kozak, Ryan Callahan, Ivan Baranka,
Hugh Jessiman, Jonathan Paiement, Jake Taylor, Robert Gherson, Rory Rawlyk,
Bryan Rodney, David Liffiton, and Dmitri Tarasov.


After the announcement of his reassignment, winger Hugh Jessiman admitted that he
“needs some more experience” and that “the jump [to this level] was not easy.” In discussing his up and down week at the main training camp, he said he had a hard time getting in the groove, and he played well yesterday because he played loose and without thinking so much. Jessiman said that although he was disappointed, he is not going to lose confidence because he is being sent to Hartford.

After last year’s injury-laden season, Jessiman is just happy he will get some games in. Maloney agreed. The Ranger coaching staff was impressed with Jessiman’s play during Saturday’s scrimmage, how he went hard to the net and scored a goal, and Maloney feels that Jessiman just needs some playing time to get in the swing of things. Maloney added that generally sending the 2003 first rounder down to Hartford is part of the Rangers “new mindset where [the team is] not
going to force feed high round picks into the lineup.”

One surprise in the players staying with the Rangers is goaltender Chris Holt, who
smiling broadly said he was delighted, in that he had not expected to be with the team into the preseason. Maloney said the 2003 sixth round pick has had a really strong camp, and came in somewhat under the radar. But the Rangers have been very impressed with his size in the net and his poise.

Another player who has earned a longer look with the NHL club is Ryan Hollweg. Hollweg, a gritty, exciting, abrasive player has a chance to play in New York, as a possible fourth liner, according to Maloney. Hollweg brings a physical element to the game, getting under people’s skin, and fighting when necessary (he registered 239 penalty minutes last season at Hartford). Hollweg was an eighth round pick in 2001.

One very exciting development at camp today was the decision to keep 2005 first round entry draft pick, Marc Staal, with the big club for the
time being. Maloney admitted that the young defenseman probably would be sent
back to junior at some point, but raved about how he has adjusted given the
difficulty of playing defense at this level. Staal is not intimidated by other
more experienced players, and even when hit, he has good balance and he stays
with the puck.

Maloney said “he is here strictly on performance,” impressed by Staal’s maturity, poise, defense in his own end, puck movement, use of his stick, and the small subtleties of his game. Staal himself said it took awhile to get comfortable out on the ice with the NHLers and was surprised that he was still in camp. He said “it would pretty exciting” to possibly suit up in
Tuesday’s exhibition game, and “it would be pretty awesome to play” in a couple
of exhibition games in an NHL rink. Other defensemen with more experience
have been very helpful to him this week, according to Staal.

He said that in order to play at this level, he will have to get much faster, especially with
the new rules. Staal’s philosophy is not to really look ahead, but to the Ranger
coaching staff, his current performance promises some real return in the near
future.

The Rangers now prepare for their first preseason game on Long Island on
Tuesday, September 20, 2005. Starting Wednesday, the Rangers will practice
in West Point, NY.

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