There is less than a month until the opening of New York Rangers training camp, at this point of summer most fans usually like to predict things like points for players or what the standings will look like. However I’m going to try to predict who will be on the Rangers forward line-up.
The top two lines are easy and here’s what I think will be:
The reason the bottom six group is so hard to predict is because there are technically 12 players trying out for six spots. Realistically though it’s 10 players trying out for only four spots because Carl Hagelin is most likely secure in his third line winger spot and Dominic Moore is most likely secure in his fourth line center spot.
Fighting for the center-man spot on the third line will be J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, and Matthew Lombardi. Miller and Lindberg are 21 and 22 respectively, Miller has some NHL experience and put up six points in 30 games last season. For the time he spent in the AHL he managed to put up 43 points in 41 games and really showed his offensive talent. Lindberg has never seen time in the NHL but does have professional experience in the AHL and the Swedish Hockey League, he managed 44 points in 75 games and brings a speedy element to his game as well. Lastly, Lombardi is the opposite, he’s a 32-year-old veteran center-man who also happened to be the Swiss League scoring champion last season. All three of these players are capable of taking this job the question is who will it go to when the time comes?
Also on the third line there’s the right-wing spot to be fought for. Yet another situation where a veteran, in this case Lee Stempniak, fights two young guys, Kevin Hayes and Ryan Haggerty for a spot. Stempniak is probably the favorite to win this spot as he is the only one who has a history of experience at the professional level. Haggerty and Hayes are two NCAA studs who very well could surprise head coach Alain Vigneault and force their way onto the roster this season but will probably end up in the AHL for some development.
Onto the fourth line, where both winger positions are open the candidates here are Tanner Glass, Ryan Bourque, Danny Kristo and Jesper Fast. Tanner Glass and Jesper Fast seem to be the favorites as both have previous NHL experience. Glass is known more for his physical aspect of the game as he was eighth in hits last season in the entire league. Glass has played for Vigneault before, and that could be why general manager Glen Sather pursued him in free agency. Fast has seen some NHL experience, and seems the most reasonable option with decent size and speed. Kristo has the potential to be a future star, but he will need some NHL experience and he will need it soon. There are some question marks about Kristo defensively, which is why he may not make it onto a fourth line that will have to be defensively responsible. Bourque is probably the lowest candidate on this list, but he did score 21 goals last season for the Hartford WolfPack , so I think that makes him worth mentioning.
Obviously I am not Alain Vigneault and I won’t make the decision on who lands where, but I think this lists offers a prospective on attempting to predict the bottom six of the New York Rangers opening night line-up.