Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rangers Announce Roster Tomorrow's Preseason Opener vs Devils

The New York Rangers announced their roster for tomorrow night’s preseason opener in Albany and there are a few surprises as to who is attending.  The talk this week had been that the Rangers were going to send a very youthful team to Albany and there are certainly a number of young players, but which NHL players making the trip is interesting.  Andrew Gross over at Ranger Rants put out the following roster:
Goal: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot

Defense: Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Brendan Bell, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon, Dylan McIlrath

Forwards: Sean Avery, Brandon Dubinsky, Dale Weise, Andre Deveaux, John Mitchell, Erik Christensen, Artem Anisimov, J.T. Miller, Christian Thomas, Ryan Bourque, Shane McColgan, Carl Hagelin

The surprising ones making the trip would have to be Lundqvist, Girardi, Dubinsky and Anisimov.  Christensen, Avery and Del Zotto also have NHL experience, but each of them is fighting to make the team, so sending them is actually a benefit to them in getting another game to make an impression.  While those guys are looking to secure their spots, future guys like McIlrath, Miller, Thomas and McColgan are attempting to leave impressions with the coaching staff and build towards their Junior seasons.  The main prospects with a chance to make the team are all in this game as Erixon and Hagelin are playing with Bourque also having an outside shot.

Rangers Interested In Paul Mara?

Yesterday Andrew Gross reported that the Rangers are interested in adding a veteran defenseman to the roster and today Katie Strang at ESPN NY adds a familiar name to the list of possible additions.  Strang is reporting that the Rangers, along with the Islanders, have expressed interest in Paul Mara joining their respective clubs.  Strang has the following quote from Mara’s agent Matt Keator:
"We've talked to both teams and they seem to be interested in him."
Bringing in a veteran is not necessarily a bad thing for those concerned with it going away from the youth movement because not all young players are actually ready.  If Staal and Sauer are healthy than I think the Rangers have enough in house with Erixon and Eminger at least to fill out the third pair.  If either of those projected top 4 defenders are not ready than the Rangers could likely use another defender without forcing Del Zotto or Valentenko into the lineup. 

Whether Paul Mara is the right guy to bring in or not is a different conversation entirely.  While Mara is a very good presence in the locker room and has a history with Tortorella both in Tampa Bay and New York it is unclear how much he actually has left in the tank on the ice.  The most intriguing part of Mara for me is how good he was playing with rookie defenders on the third pair while he was here and helping them adjust to the NHL.  That piece of Mara and how he conducts himself does intrigue me about a potential reunion with the Rangers.

Will Boyle's Strong Camp Start Quell Doubts About One Year Wonder?

The New York Rangers 2010-11 season featured a number of players who had career years.  Brian Boyle was certainly one of those as his 21 goal, 14 assist season shattered not only any individual season he had before, but his career totals.  This summer Boyle was rewarded for this performance with a three-year, $5.1 million deal.  The length of the deal was somewhat surprising because of the vast disparity between the Boyle of last season with the rest of his career.

Along with the differential between last season and the rest of his career was the disparity between his first half and second half performance.  During the first half Boyle had 18 goals and 9 assists in 52 games while hitting the wall and only recording 3 goals and 5 assists in the final 30 games.  That decline made expectations for Boyle’s contract to be one of a short length to make him “prove” that there was no fluke in his early season performance.  The Boyle contract was the only one that received anything other than rave reviews for GM Glen Sather amongst the numerous important contracts the organization had this summer.

If the first few days of training camp are any indication of the version of Brian Boyle that the New York Rangers are going to get for this contract, then Glen Sather is going to be made to look like a genius.  In the first two days of scrimmages Boyle has been a dominant force and his offensive form of the first half of last season has been on display with three goals.  Offense is not the most critical component of Boyle will bring to the Rangers, but to justify his contract there will need to be a decent amount of contributions from him.  Having a player like Boyle who can provide upwards of 20 goals from a third or fourth line spot along with the tremendous defensive work he will bring the team is a huge advantage for the Rangers.

The most encouraging thing about the early camp reports is that it shows the hard work that Boyle put in last summer in order to allow him to have his breakout season was put in once again instead of resting on what was accomplished.  Though that should not be all that surprising because just about all reports concerning this team are of that variety in that they understand the goals of the team and each individual is willing to do whatever it takes to get the team to that destination.