Rangers Analysis: What's Next For The Forwards?

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: Derek Stepan #57 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck while Anton Volchenkov #28 of the New Jersey Devils defends during a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 23 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Yesterday the Rangers made two cuts, removing Ryan McDonagh and Pavol Valentenko, sending them both to the AHL to work on their game. The Rangers, who finished 4-2 in this year's pre-season, are now left with 16 forwards on their current roster--although that includes both Chris Drury and Vaclav Prospal who are expected to miss the start of the season with different injuries. 

This begs the question: "who get's cut (or waived) once both Drury and Prospal are back?" A few players haven't exactly made an impact this year in pre-season, mainly Todd White--who was acquired in the Donald Brashear trade. But once you get past White the decisions become harder and harder. 

Let's get one thing out of the way upfront. Ruslan Fedotenko is making this team. He lead all Rangers scorers this year with seven points (one goal and six assists) in five pre-season games, and played some fantastic hockey. I think that it is safe to say that he has a spot on this team. 

But what happens from that point forward?

Join me after the jump. 

This leaves guys like Erik Christensen, Derek Stepan, Tim Kennedy and Brian Boyle on the bubble to get removed. The assumption is that if the Rangers will have to cut three players when both Prospal and Drury return, which would cut the total number of forwards to 13. I will speculate about four bubble players here, but I really only see two of them not making the team.

I think that Christensen is a pretty safe bet to remain on the team, even though he didn't have the best of pre-season. He only registered one goal and one assist in his five games, but seemed to play better as the pre-season went on. Regardless this was a guy that the Rangers, and John Tortorella, were high on last year; so I see no way that he doesn't make this team.

If you would have asked me at the start of the pre-season, I'm pretty sure that I made a few predictions here as well, I would have told you that Boyle would have been one of the other odd-men out. But after watching him play this pre-season I have to say that I am impressed. No, I don't think that he is going to be scoring 20 goals this year, but he has been brilliant all pre-season. His skating has been fantastic, his play in front of the net has been great as well and he has just showed his ability to be a complete hockey player. 

Derek Stepan is another guy that has absolutely set the world on fire this pre-season. Stepan finished this year second in scoring for the New York Rangers, posting three goals and two assists for five points in five games. But aside from his statistical value he has been flaunting his hockey smarts. His positioning is top-flight, he always seems to be in the right space at the right time and his defensive play has been better than expected for a 20-year-old rookie as well. He has also proved that his decision making ability (something scouts say is one of his best assists) is on an NHL level as well. It would be a crime for Stepan not to make the team this year. 

That leaves us with Tim Kennedy, a younger play with a ton of upside who the Rangers acquired after he was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres. Although I am a big Kennedy supporter, and I can see him having a good impact n the team this year, I truly see him as the odd-man out right now. He was thoroughly outplayed by both Stepan and Boyle, and Christensen had more of an impact than Kennedy did this pre-season. 

This isn't a black and white situation for the Rangers, since there are a ton of difficult decisions to make. So what do you guys think? The floor if yours. 

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