New York Rangers Blueshirt Beat 9/15/17: Training Camp Edition
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Head coach Alain Vigneault of the New York Rangers leaves the ice following a 5-0 defeat against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers kicked off 2017-18 training camp on Thursday. Head Coach Alain Vigneault had plenty to say about the team and upcoming season.

Alain Vigneault wasted no time addressing the biggest topic of this offseason: How will he handle the lack of depth at center?

Per Newsday’s Steve Zipay, the coach said that J.T. Miller will start at center and play at least three preseason games.  This is a big shift from what we had heard from him in July when he said Miller would not start at center to begin the season.

“I have told [Miller] that we’re going to start him at the center position,” Vigneault said, per Matt Calamia of the team’s official website. “This is a good chance for us to get him some work in the middle. At some point, whether it be early on in the season, he’s probably going to play a little bit of center. It happened last year, it happened the year before, so giving him that experience right off the bat is a good thing.”

Vigneault’s other option at center might be 18-year-old rookie Lias Andersson. “Everything I saw in development camp… there’s definitely a lot of upside there, I’ve mentioned this many times before: for me, talent has no age,” he told Calamia. “If the young man comes in and we think he can contribute to the success of our team, he’s going to be here.” Andersson is coming off the prospect tournament earlier this week where he registered only one point in four games.

Andersson registered one point in four games during the Traverse City prospect tournament, which ended earlier this week.

Quick Hits

With regards to Pavel Buchnevich Vigneault said has no health issues heading into camp. “[He] followed [the] plan this summer to a letter.”

“[Kevin Shattenkirk] has been one of the best power play guys in the league for some time.”

Vigneault remains high on defenseman Brady Skjei, who ESNY predicts will have a breakout season. “I’m expecting him to compete for a top-four spot.”

The coach expects to lean heavily on his new assistant, Lindy Ruff, with all the Knowledge and experience he has. Ruff replaces Jeff Beukeboom on the bench this season.

Strong Leadership

Vigneault believes he has strong leaders on the team this year. When you look at the roster, he’s right. Ryan Mcdonagh, Shattenkirk, Miller, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider are at the top of a strong list of players that can lead the team on-and-off the ice.

The Backup Goalie Is Solid

Vigneault signaled a strong commitment to Ondrej Pavelec as Henrik Lundqvist‘s primary backup this season. “[He’s] a highly-motivated guy who’s going to want to listen to the goalie coach and wants to help the team win to prove he belongs in the NHL,” the coach said, per Zipay.

Let’s hope he’s right, as Pavelec figures to play at least 20 games this season.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at