The NHL will expand rosters for this summer’s playoffs. Who will the New York Rangers add?
The New York Rangers exceeded the expectations of most hockey pundits this season with a 37-28-5 record and 79 points before the league paused play on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday the NHL announced its Return to Play Plan, declaring the 2019-20 regular season over and confirming that its playoffs will occur later this summer with the top 12 teams in each conference (based on points percentage).
The Rangers’ points percentage of .564 cemented a best-of-five qualifying round matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The league also noted that playoff rosters will be expanded (but didn’t provide specifics) and that it would work with the NHL Players Association to determine whether players signed after play was paused will be eligible for the playoffs.
SportsNet Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported this week that each team may be permitted to carry 28 skaters and as many goalies they desire.
Couple of other notes from Return-to-Play protocol: Two exhibition games per team; 28 skaters and as many goalies as you wish to carry.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 27, 2020
Carrying 28 skaters and three goalies could prove tricky for the Rangers because the NHL also stipulated that “each team will be permitted to travel a maximum of 50 personnel, including players, coaches and staff.”
Presumably, teams will not be allowed to make in-series call-ups due to travel, testing, etc. Plus, it’s possible neither Kaapo Kakko (type 1 diabetes) nor Brendan Lemieux (facing suspension) will play in the qualifying round.
That doesn’t leave much room for the team’s executive management, entire coaching staff, trainers, or administrative and medical personnel. A conservative count by Blue Line Station has that number totaling 20.
Considering all of that, the Rangers no doubt will have to be very selective when deciding who to take to their hub city. Here’s a look at what their roster could look like when they open training camp sometime in early July.