Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Staal, Dubinsky Round Out Ranger Roster

Finally, our many preseason questions have been answered as the Rangers set their 23 man roster by dropping Nigel Dawes and Al Montoya. The final roster, which appears at the bottom of the page, is what most expected and is expected to lead New York to its first Stanley Cup since 1994. The puck drops at 7:00 PM as the rangers host the Florida Panthers at MSG. Here are a few thoughts on some preseason games and the roster.

Hank On Track
After a shaky start to the preseason, giving up 5 goals to Philadelphia and 6 to Detroit, Lundqvist buckled down and allowed two goals apiece against the Islanders and Flyers. This dispells the worries that Henrik has lost his game and he has proven that poor results have been a result of rust that he has quickly shaken off. Now, the two-time Vezina finalist is ready to capture the trophy he has twice been a runner-up for and perhaps even a Stanley Cup.

Ready To Shanny
Brendan Shanahan has proven that he is still a force on the ice by scoring a pair in the Rangers' 5-2 defeat of the Islanders on Friday. He played well with Gomez and Dawes and after Drury seemed to click with Jagr better than Gomez does, Shanny may end up playing with Scott on Opening Night. As for Shanahan, he looks ready to go and even earned a spot on my fantasy team. Look for him to be the scoring threat he was at the beginning of last season.

Nigel A No-Go
The young forward was assigned to Hartford and was the last skater cut before Opening Night. Despite having a strong preseason in which he scored 1 goal and 3 assists in 5 games and clicked with linemates Gomez and Shanahan, Dawes was cut. He needs to get top-two-line minutes and play on an offensive line to be successful and that is something the Rangers cannot provide thanks to their deep offensive talent. Although he will not start the season, Dawes will likely be the first call up in case of injury and may play on the big team as a playoff time call-up.

Here Come The Kids
The Rangers continue their youth initiative that began the season following the lockout. The new philosophy has produced gems such as Prucha, Callahan, Tytuin, Girardi and Lundqvist. The third wave of rookies could be the strongest class ever. Staal is coming off a season in which he was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman and likely comes from the best gene pool in today's hockey. Dubinsky showed the skill and effort that earned Prucha and Callahan full time jobs on the team. He may very well center these two youngsters in a "kid line" that contains rookies from 3 consecutive seasons. Staal will likely play with Mara who's experience will help boost him into the upper echelon of NHL defensemen