Rangers Roster Getting Near The Correct Number
Alex Vasiliev a once heralded defensive prospect with the tools thought to be NHL ready attended camp unsigned and his rights were traded to the Nashville Predators for a conditional draft pick. Vasiliev showed promise in Hartford scoring 10 goals and adding 28 assists in 75 contests. Vasiliev was an early front runner to NHL promotion but then suffered a less than stellar AHL championship run for the Hartford Wolf Pack giving up many in front of the goal passes and had trouble handling the physical AHL play. This move coupled with the presence of Mike Mottau creates some excitement in the Rangers camp for the final defensive positions. Jason Doig has shown tremendous will in trying to make the team using his 6-3 225 frame and his offensive flare to accomplishing the goal of being a Rangers regular. Mike Mottau who is in camp on a try out basis has been playing decent hockey but sitting out for so long during camp and not playing for Hartford last season during their Calder Run to the Championships in the AHL may have stunted his development but he is still closer to being a lock than Doig and enforcer Dale Purinton. Mottau played superb 2-way hockey in college and has the tools to make it at the NHL level. Although under 200 pounds he plays like a man 20 pounds heavier but just as quick.
Tomas Kloucek along with Drew Bannister (strong camp) and Terry Virtue returned to Hartford but all three may get a look sooner than later in New York. Kloucek had a super first season in the AHL and was a favorite to make the jump. Bannister who has been in the NHL for some time with Edmonton and Tampa among others played solid hockey but was a victim of the numbers. Virtue an AHL journeyman played solid hockey as well and should be the veteran leader Hartford needs on defense. With the waiver draft coming up look for the Rangers to protect Dale Purinton and expose a veteran, perhaps John MacLean or Valeri Kamensky who will likely be avoided due to salary concerns. In the nets, the battle rages for the number 2 position. Swede Johan Holmqvist is playing better with each game while J.F.Labbe has yet to say “I want the job”. It now appears Holmqvist will be the no.2 until Mike Richter returns later in October. Filip Novak had a solid camp but was returned to his junior team. Novak was close to making the club but management thought it better that he spend another year polishing his skills.The Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark watch continues…with neither player stepping up and dominating. Brendl appears better in shape and Lundmark has shown some of 99`s camp flare…but both are long shots now. They will remain with the club until the final roster moves are made. The Czech line has been a great offensive force and will remain intact. Messier-Fleury-Graves line will also be intact while Mike York-Valeri Kamensky and perhaps John MacLean will handle the number 3 and Tim Taylor(upon return from injury)-Sandy McCarthy and Eric LaCroix(J.Witehall, Brendl) will handle the 4th line duties. One question is the age and ability of the Messier line….how Adam Graves back is…and can Fleury rebound from one of time`s worst seasons…? all questions that will be answered shortly.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments…