New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

New York Rangers finally make their cuts down to 25 rosters and you might be interested to see who’s made the cut.

By Nick Adams

Head Coach Alain Vigneault’s stated goal, to be at or under 30 names by today has been met. With two preseason games left after last night’s 4-3 road win over the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers roster will get shorter by a minimum of two more names before opening night following it’s fourth and latest shave (camp cuts listed below). There is one battle for a forward position and one for the 7th defenseman slot. Antti Raanta, as expected, has beaten out Magnus Hellberg for the backup goalie role.

First things first – the names (Per: New York Rangers)

The Roster:

Forwards (15): Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen (8): Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle

Goaltenders (2): Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

The Cuts:

(all players have been assigned to AHL Hartford Wolfpack):

Forwards (3): Luke Adam, Ryan Bourque, Brian Gibbons

Defensemen (4): Mat Bodie, Ryan Graves,* Brady Skjei, Chris Summers

Goalie: Magnus Hellberg

(*No relation to Adam Graves)

The Battles:

At forward, there are three players vying for a role: Emerson Etem, Tanner Glass and Jayson Megna. For anyone wondering, Viktor Stalberg has made the team

The only thing that might boil the collective blood of blueshirt faithful more than seeing Tanner Glass suit up would be the appearance Etem’s name on the waivers list. Etem is who the Rangers got in return for Carl Hagelin. If he hits waivers, he’ll get claimed elsewhere, which means we will have given Hagelin up for nothing but cap room. Underwhelming through most of camp thus far (0pts on 7SOG, 2 PIM, -2), Etem has plenty of upside in the form of speed, his willingness to take the body and his playmaking ability. He’s a little slower than Hags, but offensively seems to enjoy doing more with the puck than skating really fast in a very straight line to the exact same spot every time to unload a slapshot that a tackling dummy could stop. I think it’s likely that Etem makes the team.

Jayson Megna had two goals in the preseason opener at MSG, but has ben quiet since. I would wager he is the short list for assignment because AV just cannot seem to part with Tanner Glass.

Glass is a -2 so far. That’s really it. He entered the ice on Thursday vs the Boston Bruins like a fission-powered Roomba, hitting about 83 people in 14 seconds (including a parking attendant outside the building) and later went after Bruins’ agitator, Zac Rinaldo. That’s what Glass does and that’s what he is good at. It is more than entertaining, it has a purpose and it keeps the Simmondses, Rinaldos and Prusts of the world honest. Through no fault of Tanner’s, though, the NHL is moving away from his style of play, which makes it hard for a GM or Head Coach to justify a roster spot for him when there is available skill, speed and production available on-hand. If Glass is waived, his $1.45M cap hit makes it unlikely that he’d be claimed. If he were to clear waivers and find himself on the bus to Hartford, the Rangers would recoup $900-950K in cap space. I think he makes the team. If nothing else, I think AV would have a hard time sending a guy he likes to the AHL where he was last seen in 2008-09 as a member of the Rochester Americans rocking a Mad Max mullet and amassing a whopping 9pts, 100PIM and earning himself a -4 +/- rating.

The other battle is at the blue line, where Dylan McIlrath is battling not only for the 7th defensive slot, but possibly his NHL career. Yesterday’s cuts sent four defensemen to Hartford, leaving the fight for that defensive position clearly defined between McIlrath and Rafi Diaz. McIlrath has been impressive in his last two starts, showing off improved skating and defensive prowess. Last night, he actually had a scoring chance. Unfortunately, so did Diaz…twice and he scored both times. Advantage here is to Diaz, but McIlrath is hard not to like.

McIlrath and Glass are in similar circumstances relative to the direction of the league and the game: they are in jeopardy of being left behind. For now, however, they’ve both still got a green light to keep going forward.

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