Forward Battles

Ryan Bourque

The Rangers third round draft pick of 2009 will challenge for a spot on the wing this season. The young left wing found his offensive game two seasons ago in Hartford scoring 21 goals.

However, he had a major drop off last season scoring only 12. Drafted as a center, moved to the wing, he has some flexibility. But he would need a stellar camp to truly be in the mix.

Prediction: Somewhere in the AHL

Emerson Etem

When the Rangers acquired Emerson Etem from the Anaheim Ducks they acquired a former first round pick, including all his speed and all his skill.

However, they also acquired all of his inconsistencies. If you YouTube him you will see some real highlight reel goals. Although if you look at his numbers you will see a total of 15 goals in over 100 games played at the NHL level. Not good.

Considering the player he was traded for, Ranger fans will not give Etem much of a chance to fail. So he better hope the highlight reel guy is much more visible than the invisible man act he performed much of his years in Anaheim.

Prediction: Third line left wing.

Jesper Fast  

Fast had a fine rookie season as a Ranger. He did not show a lot early forcing many fans to question what it was about him that the coaches loved so much. As the season went on and the Rangers progressed into the playoffs, fans began to see what Alain Vigneault saw.

He is an extremely responsible defensive forward and talented penalty killer. There was one point in the season where he was on the ice for only four power play goals against over a 60+ minute span.

He does have a bit of offensive skill too. It remains to be seen if he can score enough to make Ranger fans completely forget about Carl Hagelin. If he does, the Rangers have a real nice piece in young Mr. Fast.

Prediction: Third line right wing.

Tanner Glass

After the Rangers signed Glass to 3 year 4.25 million contract during the 2014 off season many Ranger fans were left scratching their heads. It seemed to be way too much money for a player of Glass’s ability.

He is a tough guy who cannot be counted on to play a regular shift and that showed as Glass was awful during last year’s regular season. No question about it, he’s slow, clumsy, and did not even fight that well.

He was often the focus of the boo birds at MSG and there were reports of him being snubbed by autograph seekers. That all said, he deserves some credit. Through it all he persevered and had actually had a nice playoffs.

He may have changed the Capitals series a bit after his TKO of Tim Gleason. Gleason was never the same after that. All that said, Glass has two things going for him. One is the large contact, the other is the undying affection of his head coach.

Prediction: Fourth line right wing and occasional healthy scratch.

Oscar Lindberg:

Anyone who follows the Rangers has been intrigued by Lindberg and wondering if he could succeed at the NHL level. The young center was originally drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010 but traded to the Rangers in 2011 was given a two-year 1.3 million dollar contract this off-season.

The contract is a one-way deal which means if he is not kept on the roster he must clear through waivers, which he most certainly will not. Lindberg is a solid two-way center who seemingly found his scoring touch in the North American game last season with the Wolfpack.

Lindberg tallied 28 goals for the Wolfpack and hopes that his offensive ability will earn him on a spot in the Ranger lineup. What he has going for him is he is a pure center.

Guys like J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes may be better suited on the wing, which could open up a center spot for the 23 year old.

Prediction: 13th forward, in and out of lineup, but could move up if he performs and others don’t.

J.T. Miller

An enigmatic forward to start his career, Miller finally seemed to cement his place in the lineup towards the end of last season. Fans forget Miller is only 22 and is not a finished product.

After being sent a not so subtle message from his head coach regarding his poor play and preparation, Miller’s career as a Ranger was in limbo. Miller, a center by trait, played the wing last season for the Rangers. That is a very common occurrence for young players as they learn the speed of the NHL.

There are a lot less responsibilities on the wing, which makes the adjustment easier. Expect that to change. Miller could very well find himself back at center for the 2015-2016 campaign.

Prediction: Third line center

Viktor Stalberg

Stalberg was probably the biggest “huh?” move the Rangers made all off-season. The left wing bounced back and forth between the Predators and their AHL affiliate the Milwaukee Admirals last season, only playing 21 games at the NHL level.

He had his best year back in 2011 with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring 22 goals and adding 21 assists. But since then has been mostly a disappointment.

What does he have going for him? He is a left wing. It is always nice to have some depth at the left wing position. He has also played on some good hockey teams, which can be considered a nice intangible. Neither of which should have earned him a 1.1 million dollar deal.

Prediction: He will battle Etem for a spot on the third line, but wind up on waivers, then the AHL

Jarrett Stoll

The Rangers decided to give this defensive center a chance, much like they gave Ryan Malone a chance last year. The stories of the two players are very similar, but expect a different ending here.

Stoll is still a serviceable defensive forward in this league. The two time Stanley Cup Champion can fill the spot created when Brian Boyle left. He has a similar skill set to Boyle and will fit in perfectly as the Rangers fourth line center.

His biggest attribute is his face-off ability. The Rangers finished 27th in the league in face-off percentage last season. Which is ironic, because according to Ranger broadcaster Joe Micheletti, no team works on and has more set face-off plays than the Rangers. Why spend so much time on the face-off when they rarely win them?

In either event, Stoll finished over .500 in face-off winning percentage, placed 44th in the league. No current Ranger is even close.

Prediction: Fourth Line Center