New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The next stage of NHL Training Camps have come and gone as the New York Rangers have trimmed the roster to just 42 players.

By Nick Adams

New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton announced that the training camp roster has been trimmed from 62 to 43 players. Of the 19 cuts, 12 have been assigned to the AHL Hartford Wolfpack, six have been assigned to Juniors (including recent draft-pick Ryan Gropp) and one player (Jacob Smith) was cut outright, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

McKenzie Skapski, recovering from offseason hip surgery, was assigned, leaving Magnus Hellberg to split time with Rangers full-time backup goalie (and non D-Bag) Antti Raanta  Thus far, the Rangers have allowed eight goals through two pre-season games, but no one can point finger at the goaltending: six of those goals have come on opposing power plays. Count on seeing more of Hellberg until “Ginger Skaps” Skapski is fully recuperated. The Rangers are not going to put themselves in the Florida Panthers’ position form last season when they were basically forced to offer an in-season open tryout to fans for a third-string goalie. Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire, who personally spends time with all of the Rangers’ prospects and AHLers no doubt appreciates getting a little more time with Hellberg without having to travel.

Noteworthy non-cuts: Brady Skjei, Dylan McIlrath and former New York Islanders prospect Kirill Kabanov. McIlrath’s skating has shown improvement. There are a lot of fans who think he’s a bust, but it’s possible that with the improvement he’s shown since last season, Ranger fans could be seeing more of him on the “shuttle squad” if/when the injury fairy shows up and the big club needs to backfill Rafi Diaz’ slot as the 7th D-man. Skjei is not NHL ready yet, to the chagrin of many, but he’s showing he’s got the goods.

Oscar Lindberg continues to impress. He scored against the Flyers, who skated their first-string in last night’s 5-3 victory over Blueshirts. Lindberg is essentially in a one-man win-or-go-home playoff to earn a spot on Vigneault’s 23-man roster come opening night. The Rangers signed him to a two-year, one-way extension deal, which requires that he clear waivers before being sent back to Hartford should he fail to make the team. Oscar Lindberg isn’t going unclaimed on the waiver wire. If he wants to be a Ranger, this is his chance to arrive. AV’s got “rich people’s problems” for once when it comes to forward depth and early on, it looks like off season FA signings have made for a very crowded house north of the blue line. Lindberg has his work cut out for him.

Vigneault says he intends to have the roster trimmed to approximately 30 players by Sunday, following the Rangers fourth preseason game versus New Jersey at the Pebble on Saturday. In the interim, Henrik Lundqvist is scheduled to make his preseason “royal debut” Thursday night in Boston against the Bruins.

Stay tuned.

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