Hey guys, so I have some exciting news for you all. We've added a new writer here at Blueshirt Banter, Michael Rappaport! Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and is also an intern with Stan Fischler. He's a great writer and a great guy, and should be a fantastic addition to the site, so please give him a warm welcome. This is his inaugural story, so enjoy it!
With less than a month remaining before training camp is scheduled to open, are the New York Rangers ready to open the season with the roster they have?
Besides acquiring Rick Nash, the Rangers brought in free agents Taylor Pyatt, Jeff Halpern, and Arron Asham to replace the departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell, and Ruslan Fedotenko. And with the exception of restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto (as well as the package the Rangers sent to Columbus for Nash), the other Blueshirts' regulars from last season are under contract for 2012-13.
If there will be any additions to the Rangers' roster before the first game, the odds are it will be up front. The goaltending is the least of the Rangers' concerns; with last year's Vezina-winner Henrik Lundqvist and reliable backup Martin Biron entrenched as the Blueshirts' two netminders.
The defense looks to be the same in 2012-13 as it was last season. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal are undoubtedly the Rangers' top blueliners, and they re-signed Anton Stralman and Stu Bickel. As mentioned before, Del Zotto is still a free agent, but without much leverage, there is little question that he will be on the ice for the Blueshirts.
Whether Michael Sauer returns from a concussion he suffered last December remains to be seen, but the Rangers are comfortable using the six defensemen they have right now for the duration of the year.
There will likely be a new forward on the roster for a few reasons, two of which are Marian Gaborik's health, and the youth infusion that the Blueshirts have had over the last few seasons.
Even if there is a lockout, and Gaborik is healthy enough to be in the lineup for the Rangers' first game of the year, the top prospects in the Rangers system are forwards, and it's likely at least one of them will be on Broadway this season.
One prospect the Rangers are very high on is Christian Thomas. The Rangers' second round pick in 2010 will be entering his first full season of professional hockey, and even if he doesn't make the opening night roster, he has a very good chance to be a mid-season call up (like Carl Hagelin was a year ago).
Another prospect that has been talked about is J.T. Miller. The Rangers' first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft turned a lot of heads at the team's prospect camp this summer. The only hang-up with Miller is that he can't be sent back and forth from the Rangers to his junior team, the Plymouth Whalers during the season, and at 19 years old, he can't play in the AHL.
It is more likely however for the Rangers to start the year with Thomas and/or Miller than to sign another free agent forward (ex: Shane Doan). Doan's style would be a great fit for the Rangers system, but the contract he will get when he decides where to sign, and the talent knocking on the door in the organization make the prospects a better option at this point.