The New York Rangers will have some decisions to make.
First their captain Chris Drury got hurt blocking a shot and breaking his hand which opened the door for Derek Stepan to make the team. The youngster, and former top prospect, has impressed with both Alexander Frolov and Marian Gaborik but also displayed the ability as a playmaking center to succeed without them. In addition, Brian Boyle has had such a good camp he should be pencilled in for fourth line duty, the spot Drury probably would occupy.
Vinny Prospal will miss the beginning of the season which likely opens a spot for Ruslan Fedotenko and keeps both Stepan and Erik Christensen in the mix as top line center. Prospal will rest for two weeks as he experiences inflammation to his knee, which was surgically repaired last season. If you remember correctly, his original injury opened the door for Christensen to center Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky — who will primarily play wing this season.
The team still needs to decide which of their depth players will stick on the roster as Mats Zuccarello, Dale Weiss, Tim Kennedy and Todd White still remain on the team but have yet to find a firm role. Kennedy and Zuccarello are both skill players who will probably become victims of a numbers game.
To open the season, the lines will probably look something like this with the second and third lines interchangeable:
Frolov – Stepan – Gaborik
Fedotenko- Christensen – Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery – Artem Anisimov – Dubinsky
Derek Boogaard – Brian Boyle – Brandon Prust
The performance of the fourth line cemented those players in their roles and the players in the top nine really seemed to earn their keep with the team. It will be hard to distinguish where both Drury and Prospal even fit in on the team with such talented players in the minors and a plethora of competition amongst forwards.
In addition, the final three defensive spots will be fought over by Michael Sauer, Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, Matt Gilroy and Steve Eminger. All of which have played an excellent pre-season and forced the team to cut veteran Alexei Semenov much sooner than expected.