Because Derek Stepan is the last of the New York Rangers to sign, what better time than now to speculate on how the lines will shake out?
What better time than now to put together potential line combinations?
After making an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final two seasons ago, the Rangers have lost a couple of key depth players in Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman.
While fans wondered what impact these moves would have, the Rangers ended up in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. It was not a Stanley Cup Final appearance but the new players that came in for the departed pulled their own weight.
This offseason, another depth forward in Carl Hagelin was lost to that ugly entity known as the salary cap.
Lets take a look at the current roster and set up our way too early line combinations:
- Rick Nash – Derek Brassard – Mats Zuccarello
- Emerson Etem – Derek Stepan – Chris Krieder
- J.T. Miller – Oscar Lindberg – Kevin Hayes
- Viktor Stalberg – Dominic Moore – Jesper Fast
- Extra Forwards: Tanner Glass, Jayson Megna
The first line is set based on last years production. Nash enjoyed a nice regular season with over 40 goals; Brassard set a career high 60 points; and Brassard’s partner in crime will be back in full force, Mats Zuccarello.
Don’t worry Rangers Town, Derek Stepan will be back on this team opening night. The only question mark on this line is left wing. This will formulate into a revolving door between Etem, Miller and Stalberg. Here though, Etem will take his chance in a top six role and run with it.
The third line moves Kevin Hayes to his natural wing position and allows J.T. Miller to keep a top nine role. Oscar Lindberg is my wild card here. He is defensively sound and a face-off specialist with plenty of offensive upside. He’s a perfect center to allow two kids to take chances and grow on the offensive side of the ice.
The fourth line is perfect for Dominic Moore to center. He has the skill to chip in offensively, but knows his role as a shut down defensive center. Jesper Fast, for all intents and purposes, is the replacement for Hagelin. Tanner Glass was a hated man last season, but I think he showed his value in the playoffs. Viktor Stalberg may start on the fourth line, but he has the skill to move up if Miller or Etem falter.
- Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
- Marc Staal – Dan Boyle
- Keith Yandle – Kevin Klein
- Extra Defensemen: Raphael Diaz, Dylan Mcilrath
The Rangers first pairing is as reliable as it gets. Just ask the top players in the league how it feels to play against these two.
I place Dan Boyle on the second pairing purely because I don’t ever want to see Boyle and Keith Yandle together again. They both play similar games and the potential offense is not worth the trouble they cause on the defensive side of the ice.
Mark my words Rangers fans, you will fall in love with Yandle this season (despite the last commentary about him). He is one of the best offensive defenseman in the league and a full season watching him will be nice to see.
The Rangers youth will either step up and grow, or this will be a transition year. The Rangers are banking on Kreider, Miller and Hayes to take the next step.
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