With the first game behind them, the Rangers have some upcoming decisions to make when Captain Ryan Callahan and really fast dude Carl Hagelin return to the lineup. The decision(s) won’t just come down to veteran vs rookie philosophy, it will be about the Cap concerns.
Callahan is already part of the roster, but there’s very little room against the cap. When Hagelin comes back, they will be $1,148,417 in the red, and just sending Fast down will not be enough to cover it. The prime candidates for demotion are Pyatt, Asham and (less likely) Boyle, but thanks to prior decisions and new CBA rules, even waiving them would carry a percentage against the cap if they clear the waiver process. JT Miller and his $1.2 million would take care of it, but will they send down one of their more effective players? It’s highly possible, and even likely if they decide to keep veteran presences around while giving younger guys more minutes in Hartford.
I’m not confident they’ll make the right decision, but my version of the “right” decision may not fit with how AV wants to construct his lineup. I’d like to see guys like Miller and Fast in there before the aforementioned vets. Asham brings some toughness to a very soft lineup, Boyle brings a faceoff and PK element, but both are less effective in their roles than Dorsett and Moore. Pyatt brings even less to the table.
We’re all still learning how AV likes to run his lines, but its clear that they have young talent ready for limited roles that could grow as the season progresses. Will he be willing to use them early in the season? We can safely say that it will likely be Fast taking a seat when Callahan comes back on Monday. The big decision will come when Hagelin is ready. A lot can happen in nine games, but injuries aside, something has to give. I just hope they’re willing to use the guys on the way up and not play it safe with “experience”.
Game 1 we saw a team that was still learning how to find the line between their new coaches system and their own instincts, which is correctable, but we also saw a coach still learning how he wants to deploy the talent available to him, which must be corrected quickly. We also saw a franchise goalie who’s still not used to how his team sets up in front of him. All those preseason tips did not happen by accident.
They’re still trying to figure out their new style, with a roster in flux, while starting off on a long road trip, but they cannot afford a bad start. Points in October are as important as points in March, and getting points on the road makes for much better positioning. How they decide to choose between talent and experience will determine if they can get off to a decent start before heading home.