How far will the Rangers get this season?

Rangers Cut McDonagh, Three Others
The Rangers made a surprising decision on defense today, and won't have to make tough decisions at forward with Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal likely headed to the IR...

In a surprise move, the Rangers chose to keep Mike Sauer over Ryan McDonagh

In a surprise move, the Rangers chose to keep Mike Sauer over Ryan McDonagh

The Rangers trimmed their roster to 25 today by sending Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, Mats Zuccarello and Dale Weise to Hartford.

Weise and Zuccarello had already been cut, but were emergency call ups for last night’s game as the Rangers rested Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan.  Valentenko has had a very strong camp, but his skills are still raw and while John Tortorella wanted to give him a longer look, his demotion was a foregone conclusion.  But cutting McDonagh comes as a pretty big surprise.  He’s been extremely steady during camp and seemed like he had a spot locked up on defense. 

It appears that the Rangers were unwilling to cut Mike Sauer and Steve Eminger as both would have had to pass through waivers, where Sauer would likely have been claimed.  McDonagh and Valentenko are not subject to waivers and can be sent to Hartford without penalty.  It’s certainly good to Sauer finally get his shot at the NHL and he has been effective during the preseason.  But one has to wonder if he’s truly a better option than McDonagh, or if the Rangers are just trying to keep as many good young defensemen in the organization as they can.  Can’t really blame the Blueshirts if that’s the case as it would have been a real shame to lose a promising young player like Sauer to waivers.  But McDonagh certainly proved that he’s ready for the NHL and may have been more a victim of the Rangers’ unwillingness to lose Sauer than anything else.  Eminger has been very quiet and appears likely to be the seventh defenseman by default. 

With yesterday’s news that Vinny Prospal won’t skate for at least two weeks and possibly quite a bit longer, a couple borderline Rangers forwards may have survived final cuts by default.  It now seems likely that both Prospal and Chris Drury will begin the season on IR, so the Rangers won’t be forced to make tough decisions at forward.  Todd White was the apparent odd man out, until he potted two goals last night.  Before that, White had shown very little in the preseason and also carried a hefty salary cap hit with him.  When Drury and Prospal rejoin the team, he remains the most likely to be cut.

The Derek Stepan debate also will be put on hold, at least for the moment, as he’ll almost certainly get a two-week audition in the NHL while Prospal and Drury heal.  It remains unclear who will center Alex Frolov and Gaborik, but Stepan has spent time between Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko recently, a less-pressure filled situation for the rookie.

Fedotenko will almost certainly get an offer from the Rangers, but Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun says that as many as three teams have also contacted Fedotenko about a contract.  The Rangers may have to offer a bit more money than they intended to retain Fedotenko. 

In summary, the Rangers faced some extremely difficult decisions for their final roster and were given a bit more time to make them with Drury and Prospal hurt.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the duo return to the lineup, but for right now, all the Rangers’ bubble forwards will probably be with the team opening night.  On defense, the Rangers chose to keep as many assets as possible, maybe at the cost of McDonagh’s roster spot.

The Rangers may make other roster moves, as trade winds continue to blow, but if Drury and Prospal do indeed start the year on IR the Blueshirts won’t have to make any more cuts for a couple weeks.  

Posted by Kevin Baumer | October 3, 2010 at 02:06 pm

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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