Okay, so maybe losing 8-5 was not the note we wanted to leave preseason on. But there are a couple things we can take out of preseason that were very uplifting and promising.
First things, first. Lets go over the final cuts. Blueshirt Baggins and Dale Weise were brought back up towards the end to play Ottawa, only to be sent right back down again. That’s okay. Zuccarello needs some seasoning before we see him drop any rings into the net. Also cut after the final preseason game were Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. McDonuts played remarkably (even tying the team lead for defenders in +/-), so it was a little shocking to see him sent down. Eminger played terrible at times and remains on the roster. Torts is peobably hoping that Ryan gets some needed experience down in Hartford before rejoining the team. This move brings the roster down to 25 and with Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee) going on IR once the season starts, it makes the roster fit (for now – more on that later).
Speaking of Prospal’s injury, rumor has it and Larry Brooks fron the NY Posts is reporting that Vaclav could get season ending surgery that could also possibly end his career. More will be known after the first two weeks of the season as Vinny rests his knee. Prospal, who had surgery last December on the same knee, admits that he hasn’t felt 100% on that knee since and even had soreness throughout the summer. This would have been good to know before his $2.48 million cap hit. Vinny will be missed if we have to do without, but I have no doubt we would be able to fill his spot with one of our many viable options.
Today, the Rangers waived Todd White and Tim Kennedy as well to make more room in the cap and on the roster for more acquisitions. I have to admit, we don’t need White’s $2.375 mil holding the Rangers down. Although, he had a pretty good preseason netting 2 goals and 4 points in as many games. It’s sad to see Kennedy go as he had flashes of promise and strong play, even though his 2 points don’t exactly scream “amazing”. Both are able to be claimed by other teams, but neither are expected to as the move was merely to make room for any late moves before the start of the season. Don’t be surprised if one or both players remain in Hartford. Although, this could prove to be all for not and both are back on Broadway.
One of those acquisitions, though, was the signing of Ruslan Fedotenko who the Rangers agreed to terms with yesterday in the form of a one-year, $1 million contract. Fedotenko’s strong preseason play more than earned him that roster spot. Feds led the team in Points (7), Assists (6), and Plus/Minus (+5) during the preseason.
On the subject of a good preseason comes the story of Derek Stepan who was the only rookie to survive the cuts and will remain on the team for the start of the season. You know every fan is excited to see how he does this regular season and if he can build upon his impressive preseason performance. Derek finished with 3 goals and 5 points in 5 games with a 21.4 shooting percentage. Stepan will wear #21 this season as all eyes will be on him.
The Rangers’ preseason looked very promising ending with a 4-2 record. The offence looked outstanding and for the most part was very strong as they scored at least 3 goals in every game, even scoring 5 goals in 4 separate games. The defense even had some flashes of promise not allowing shots from the slot. Some games ended up with a high amount of shots of goal, but for the most part those shots were not taken from good areas. All in all I have high hopes for this upcoming season, which I have to admit after the end of the last season and our free agent debacles I did not see any gleaming light at the end of the tunnel. Previously during the offseason, I thought of this season as a rebuilding year and that we’d have to look forward to next season. Glen Sather and John Tortorella did a good job at fielding a team that looks to be playoff ready.