NEW YORK - OCTOBER 01: Peter Regin #13 of the Ottawa Senators tries to get around Ryan McDonagh #51 of the New York Rangers during their preseason game on October 1 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Today the Rangers assigned Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, Dale Weise, and Matt Zuccarello to Hartford. That leaves Gilroy, Sauer, and Eminger. I'm not the least bit surprised as Gilroy has NHL experience and Sauer showed in the pre-season that he can play sold minutes (although it definitely helped his cause that he would need to pass through waivers). Eminger will likely be the seventh and although he played mediocre at best throughout the pre-season he'll serve his purpose in the press box where he'll be a standing threat to any defeseman who doesn't pull his weight. The Rangers didn't have that luxury last season as players like Wade Redden could not be reprimanded for lackadaisical play.
I'm glad McDonagh and Valentenko got sent down. It was the responsible thing to do. Some seasoning in Hartford will help them develop and it's likely the prudent thing to do. Better to have them there getting played 25 plus minutes a night and also play on the power play and penalty kill than take half those minutes in New York or sit in the press box. Let them get their confidence in the AHL. Defense is a difficult position to transition into the NHL. There is a huge difference in the skill level of forwards in D-1 hockey or the KHL compared to the NHL.
Saying the Rangers aren't committed to youth is delusional at this point. McDonagh and Valentenko were not ready for NHL duty. They played no better than average against pre-season competition. That does not warrant spots on the team. The Rangers have done a good job over the past few years not rushing their prospects and it doesn't accomplish anything throwing these guys into the fire when some time in Hartford would improve their games.
I'm sure all four of those guys will make an impact on the Rangers roster over the course of the season. The Rangers have 25 guys on the roster now, they can keep from making touch decisions up front with Prospal and Drury starting the season on the IR. Todd White for the moment is on the team but the next couple weeks are likely a showcase for him to up his trade value for the Rangers. If Derek Stepan continues to show he can stick at the NHL level than Todd White will likely be moved.
Have at it in the comments.