Just a reminder, during the first few preseason games (where the rosters are mixed with kids and veterans) we're not going to do traditional notes. Instead we're going to focus on player and position evaluations for the guys trying to make the team. Like last time, it's player, the summary of their performance and then words about it.
J.T. Miller (Locked in): If you thought the first preseason game was a mirage, Miller happily proved you wrong on Friday. I've talked a lot the past week about him being a major part of the team's plans with Derek Stepan gone, but playing like this I think he'd be a major part regardless. He scored a goal last night (on the power play, too) and simply looked comfortable. He now has a stranglehold on that open 3C position, and Kevin Hayes or Oscar Lindberg are going to have to pry it from his fingers if they want it now.
Anthony Duclair (The hype is real): I saw a few people looking at Duclair and wondering if he was the next Evgeny Grachev. He isn't, and there are a bunch of different reasons for that (there will be a longer story on this next week) but no matter how high or conservative you are on him (you can't really be low on him, right?) last night was a fantastic first professional showing. A goal (on a ridiculous backhand pass by Rick Nash) and an assist for two points in his first pro game? Yeah, not bad at all. I still think it's going to be tough for him to make the team, but my word he can make that decision a tough one.
Oscar Lindberg (OK but not great): Lindberg did score a goal but then he got his pocket picked when the Rangers let one in. He's going to have to impress a lot more than that if he wants to take the spot from Miller on the third line. One of the best parts of Lindberg's game, however, is his defense; which might make him a natural fit on the fourth line if Alain Vigneault does use Dominic Moore on the first line.
Conor Allen (7th defenseman): The 7th defenseman audition was so bad in the Rangers first preseason game that it might actually come to this. Allen made a few mistakes Friday night but didn't really look out of place. At 25 there's not much room for him to continue to develop, and he's already a better option than Monday's trio. Does it make sense to have him hang around as a 7th defenseman? Do the Rangers think he has a higher ceiling he can reach that would stop them from doing that? I wouldn't hate having him around, to be honest.
Marek Hrivik (Don't we do this every year?): Every preseason seems to go exactly the same way for Hrivik. He starts off impressing in camp (check), has a few solid preseason games (check) and then is one of the last players cut (remains to be seen). Hrivik is a big body with a nose for the net (his goal was beautiful last night) but I simply can't see him leapfrogging anyone in front of him, especially due to his age.
Dylan McIlrath (Tough to judge): Did he stick up for a teammate? Yes. Is that a part of the game that's going to help him make the Rangers? No. It also cost him 17 minutes worth of penalty time (he got two more for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct). He ended up playing less than 15 minutes and didn't look terribly out of place, although he didn't really impress either. While he's older, he is a year behind on his development and sometimes bigger defenseman take time to develop. He won't be the team's seventh defenseman -- since the Rangers care about his development -- but I really can't see a place for him on this team. Brady Skjei comes up next year and Allen might stick with the team as a 7th this year (which would give him an edge if the Rangers had a bottom-pairing opening next year). I don't think he has any trade value, either. Tough spot for him and the team.