On Monday, the Rangers will announce their final roster cuts, and in turn, what their lineup Thursday night in St. Louis will look like when the team plays its season opener. This is one of the tougher years in recent memory in terms of anticipating what this group will actually look like.
With the team's preseason finale on Saturday night, there were still arguably up to eight players in there with non-guaranteed spots looking to win a job. So this is no easy task, but we're 'OK' with being wrong if so be it.
So here's what the New York Rangers 2014-15 opening night lineup might look like: The final projection of the preseason.
Anthony Duclair — Martin St. Louis — Rick Nash
Chris Kreider — Derick Brassard — Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin — J.T. Miller — Kevin Hayes
Ryan Malone — Dominic Moore — Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass, Chris Mueller
Ryan McDonagh — Dan Girardi
Marc Staal — Dan Boyle
John Moore — Kevin Klein
Wanted to explain a few of these decisions. Following the team's final preseason game, Alain Vigneault said, "We've got issues in the middle right now." For that reason, I kept Mueller around as a healthy scratch, and had Hayes on the third line instead of Ryan Haggerty because of his ability to move into the middle if need be. If Derek Stepan does indeed go to LTIR, which looks like it will be the case, it will allow the Rangers to carry more players because of the cap relief.
While Vigneault didn't seem thrilled about the idea of using St. Louis as a center, this lineup allows for him to switch some things up if he doesn't like what he sees. Miller could switch lines with Duclair, with Hayes going into the middle on the third line (or Mueller), and Duclair going to the wing.
The Rangers are also reportedly going to name a captain before the they travel to St. Louis for the start of the regular season. With the team flying out on Wednesday, an announcement is expected before then. Spoiler: It's going to be McDonagh. Also it shouldn't come as a surprise if Staal and Girardi retain their letters.