Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Some notes from Thursday's informal skate.
- Why don't we start with some line combinations, since we talked about that yesterday. Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik all skated on the first line together. Remember, too, that this was an informal practice which wasn't run by the New York Rangers coaching staff. As for that top line: I do think we'll see the trio play together -- especially early on -- but I do think John Tortorella will be better served splitting Nash and Gaborik up to give the Rangers two lethal snipers on two different lines.
- So remember all that talk about Derek Stepan being the perfect center for Nash since Stepan doesn't need the puck to be successful? Richards and Nash reportedly showed a lot of chemistry in the skate. Nash found space and buried a few one timers past Henrik Lundqvist. Those two might be fun to watch.
- Also interesting: Chris Kreider was on the third line while Carl Hagelin was on the second. I do expect that to change as the season goes on, but a Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan line would be fun.
- Nearly every Ranger was at the skate yesterday, which is a good sign. People have already been commenting on the intensity level at the skates and how much this team is pushing itself already. I told you all the Tortorella factor was going to play in here, and it already has.
- Michael Del Zotto -- the last piece to the team not signed right now -- and Glen Sather are reportedly "not close" on the dollars in their current negotiations. This isn't surprising. The two sides escaped the media pressure last summer because of the lockout, but these negotiations haven't gone well from the get-go. I do think a deal gets done, but come Sunday (once practices become official) he can't be on the ice without a contract.
- Speaking of defenseman: Wade Redden has to be wondering what his year is going to be like. By all indications it appears as though the Rangers are going to do the smart thing and force him to sit out a year before they buy him out. Redden will still be paid, of course, but of if he wants to make an NHL return it's going to be tough now that he has to sit out a year. Remember that the Rangers can't buy Redden out next summer (when the buyouts can be used) if he is injured. There's no way they let him play.
- The NHLPA starts their ratification of the CBA today, and that vote goes into the weekend. The schedule is supposed to be released when it's completed.
- Rumor is the Rangers will open at home the day after they open on the road against Boston. This -- if true -- would be a huge back-to-back test for the Rangers early. It will be nice to open The Garden against the Penguins, though.