With 2 preseason games remaining and less than 10 days until the regular season starts, the New York Rangers are starting to take shape.  As of this post, the roster is down to 24 players and there are a lot of new faces.

The biggest off-season signing is Marian Gaborik, formally of the Minnesota Wild.  Gaborik is the sniper the Rangers were desperately looking for, the biggest question is his history of being injury prone.  He was also hurt at the start of training camp and just played his first preseason game the other night against Detroit.  He managed 19:38 TOI and so far so good.  He is slated to be the 1st line Right Winger (see below for projected lines).

Other off-season acquisitions:

Vaclav Prospal: Tampa Bay’s loss could be the New York Rangers gain.  Bought out of his contract by TB, the veteran was quickly swooped up and re-united with his former coach John Tortorella.  He will add leadership and a veteran presence ala Martin Straka, and like Straka, Vinny can play both Center and Left Wing.  Initially brought in to be a winger, lately Prospal’s been looking real good centering a line with Gaborik and another off-season acquisition Enver Lisin.  We’ll see whether Vinny is a Center or returns to Left Wing come opening night.

Enver Lisin:  Acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes for Lauri Korpikoski, this Russian native is FAST.  He’s got all the potential in the world, and I’m very eager to see what this former 2nd round draft pick can bring to Broadway.  His spot in the lineup is still undetermined, but if he sticks with Gaborik look for a breakout season from the young Russian.

Christopher Higgins: Acquired in a multi-player trade from the Montreal Canadians for Scott Gomez, his overall game and projected spot as a Top 6 forward can only help the homecoming of this Smithtown NY native.  He was dealing with injuries last year so look for a bounce back season from this former Hab.

Ales Kotalik:  Free agent acquisition is likely to re-unite with his former line-mate from Buffalo, Rangers Captain Chris Drury.  Let’s hope this reunion brings good results for both Drury and Kotalik.

Brian Boyle:  Acquired in a pre-draft trade from the Los Angeles Kings, Boyle is a physical 4th line center.  He’s no Blair Betts, but he brings size and a potential for 4th line scoring.

Donald Brashear:  What can I say?  Ranger fans HATE him and he’s a DIRTY player.  He brings size and if he can avoid taking stupid penalties, he could be an asset playing 4 minutes a game on the 4th line.   I know I share this sediment with a lot of Ranger fans, we don’t want him, we don’t need him, but if he’s here he better stick up for his teammates and not take stupid penalties…

The 8 day holdout of projected top-line Center Brandon Dubinsky has finally come to an end as he signed a 2 year $3.7 Million contract.  Did holding out for 8 days hurt Dubinsky’s chances of centering the top line?  It very well may have.

The projected lines prior to training camp looked something like this:





After a few pre-season games, the lines are looking more like this:





Lisin-Prospal-Gaborik have really clicked so far and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as the top line.  The only question is if they decide to switch Prospal to center, it will be at Anisimov’s expense.  Anisimov deserves to be on the team and should be centering one of the top 3 lines if he makes the club as I can’t see them wasting his talent on the 4th line.  There’s still almost 10 days left so a lot can change between now and then.  Avery was hurt at practice the other day in a fluke collision with Callahan and could be questionable for the opening night.  That itself could change a lot of things.

As I mentioned, the roster is down to 24 players and I have a feeling they will cut at least two more.  The two likely to go is Defenseman Michael Del Zotto and Forward Evgeny Grachev.  Both are exceptional prospects, and both are only 19.  Del Zotto has impressed in camp but will have to return to juniors if he doesn’t make the team.  Grachev, on the other hand, can be sent to the Rangers AHL squad in Hartford.

Speaking of defensemen, if Del Zotto is the final cut, the pairings will look like this:





Redden and Rozsival are the overpaid veteran pairing who NEED to have a good season or else it will be a LONG season for both.  Gilroy has been amazing in camp and this former Boston University defenseman is looking for a huge season ahead in his homecoming to NY as well.  Sanguinetti is the Rangers 1st round draft pick from 2006, and if he survives final cuts, it’s his time to show them they didn’t make a mistake taking him with the 21st overall pick.  He’s from the tri-state area and grew up a Rangers fan, I’m interested to see how this kid will do.  The wildcard on defense is Alexei Semenov.  A free agent from San Jose was invited to Rangers camp as a try-out, after another former Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren was hurt prior to training camp opening.  Semenov took his opportunity, ran with it and hasn’t looked back.  He could very well be the Rangers 7th defenseman on opening night and will bring a spare veteran presence that can also play forward in a pinch, ala Jason Strudwick.

It will be very interesting to see how roster takes shape in these last days until Opening Night.  I, for one, cannot wait for the season to start and to see how the team chemistry is built along the way.  This team needs to play big in front of King Henrik to be successful and I think they are moving in the right direction.

I could probably go on for hours about the whole roster, but I will spare all of you unless some Ranger die-hards want to chime in.  Finally my picks for Alternate Captains (vacated by Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund) are: Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal.

So until Opening Night…