New York Rangers: Making sense of the roster moves

The New York Rangers cut their roster down by seven players today.

The New York Rangers made a slew of roster cuts today, dropping various players to create what looks like the final roster picture.

The news is unsurprising on some fronts (Bobby Farnham, Ryan Graves) but in other areas the Rangers managed to surprise. Lias Andersson was widely expected to at least get a shot in the beginning of the season with the team, but instead will play overseas. Andersson did not do enough to stand out in the preseason, so some extra seasoning makes sense.

However, the remainder of the moves provoke more questions than answers.

The Offense:

New York waived Matt Puempel, a move signifying they are not afraid to lose him on waivers. Puempel did nothing to stand out in the preseason, nor did he look particularly sharp last season.

However, New York showed they are afraid of waivers in some cases, keeping Paul Carey and Andrew Desjardins on the roster. Desjardins may still be cut if Jesper Fast does not go on the long term injured reserve, but the mere fact that the Rangers held onto both Carey and Desjardins shows that New York feels they have talents in the two.

Meanwhile, the Rangers demoted Vinny Lettieri (who did not look ready) and Boo Nieves (who did look ready) largely due to both not needing waivers to go down to the AHL. In essence, New York is stating that they want more time to look at the likes of Carey and Desjardins before making a full decision on the roster.

While Nieves should be on the roster, it’s difficult to blame the Rangers much for this. The 4th line wing spot will only be open until Fast returns, so a nine game try-out for Paul Carey is not the worst idea. Sure, Carey is a career AHL player, but nine games does not spark much trouble.

Andrew Desjardins, on the other hand, spells trouble. Desjardins is a grit-only player who is more familar with the boxing aspect of hockey than finding the back of the net. Should he play at all, the Rangers will be a much worse team. This is a Tanner Glass 2.0 scenario. Any games he plays in represent New York not learning from their previous mistakes. The fourth line matters, and thus far the Rangers have butchered it.

The Defense:

On defense, the Rangers unsurprisingly retained Nick Holden and Marc Staal on the active roster. Holden would have to be waived or traded to be moved, and waiving a player they traded a fourth round pick for one year ago would be a difficult move to make. New York likely is looking to build Holden’s trade value, then move him when the time is right.

I will have more on Marc Staal soon, but the issue is they cannot demote him without his permission. His no-movement clause makes it difficult to trade him as well. New York is stuck with Staal for now.

The real concern is with Steven Kampfer making the roster. It’s no big deal that Ryan Graves and Neal Pionk are starting the season in the AHL, though Pionk deserves better based on his play. It is a big deal that the Rangers believe Kampfer is a talented enough player that they should fear losing him on waivers.

Additionally, the Rangers have five defensemen that must be in the lineup every night. Anthony DeAngelo is one of those five. Considering New York also has Holden, Kampfer, and Staal, that leaves three defensemen rotating in the last spot.

Alain Vigneault and Fears

Of course, Alain Vigneault cannot be trusted to leave Anthony DeAngelo out of that rotation. Thus, we may see Anthony DeAngelo being swapped with a journeyman and one of the worst contracts in hockey. That cannot happen. If it does, the Rangers have failed yet again.

Finally, watch out for waivers. New York certainly could add another forward, and perhaps the waiver action could lead to Nick Holden being traded. For now, the Rangers made plenty of poor decisions,. However, expect plenty to change after the first month of the season. None of the moves are set in stone, but they are concerning for now.