With the caveat being that we're not even a week through training camp and we've only seen one preseason game, I think it's fair to say the New York Rangers won't have a depth problem at forward this year.
To this point already Alain Vigneault has pointed out the really positive play of Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo and J.T. Miller. We even saw pretty nice strides from Ryan Bourque and Jesper Fast in the Rangers' preseason loss to the Devils on Monday. Keep in mind guys like Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Haggerty, Anthony Duclair and Hrivik have yet to play (they'll take on Chicago with Group B on Friday).
That doesn't even include the Kevin Hayes we saw in the third period on Monday. Or older veterans like Ryan Malone, Lee Stempniak and Matthew Lombardi (who didn't make the greatest first impression impression Monday).
When the Rangers lost Benoit Pouliot, Derek Dorsett and Brian Boyle this summer a lot of us (myself included) wondered how the Rangers were going to regroup from losing all that depth on the bottom two lines. On the surface it might not seem like an area that should be emphasized, but if you watched the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup Final last year you know just how important that bottom six depth was.
Before the Rangers acquired Hayes -- and before Miller came out of the gate flying in training camp -- we all turned our focus to guys like Lindberg, Fast and Kristo to potentially populate different parts of the third and fourth lines. Outside of Stempniak (who will make the team barring something insane) players like Lombardi and Malone have a real shot to fill those spots now. Which means the competition between them and the kids trying to make the cut will be more ferocious. Which means the decisions Vigneault has to make in this regard will be tougher and tougher to make.
Which is a really good thing.
Again, it's been just a single preseason game. The Rangers went up against the Devils and the kids trying to make their roster. It wasn't a true NHL squad, but it was the first real tangible evidence we have for this season. If guys like Lombardi and Malone make the team out of camp it pushes fringe player (think Tanner Glass here) down to the 13th forward or AHL role. If they don't make the team because guys like Miller, Hayes, Fast, Lindberg or Kristo push them off the roster? Even better.
No matter how this plays out, the Rangers have a plethora of options at forward.
That's a good thing.