The New York Rangers are 1-2 thus far in the preseason, with their only win coming vs. the Devils, and after tonight’s contest vs. New Jersey there are only two games left in the 2018-19 preseason which means opening night on October 4 is just around the corner.
Here are the players scheduled to play on Monday night via the Rangers’ official Twitter account:
PROJECTED #NYR LINEUP FOR TONIGHT vs NJ:— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 24, 2018
This lineup is a bit of a mixed bag, and we will start with the forwards.
The line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich is dressed, and will likely be the team’s first line to start the season. Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello are also veterans dressed who are locks to make the team.
Other veteran skaters include Cody McLeod and Matt Beleskey, both who are fighting (no pun intended) for their NHL careers at this point. The forward group is rounded out by some youngsters and prospects including Lias Andersson, Tim Gettinger, Steven Fogarty and Vinni Lettieri.
Andersson has looked really good in a short sample, and is on a shortlist of players who may have already earned a spot on the opening night roster.
Tim Gettinger is coming off his final season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL in which he tallied 33 goals and 69 points in 66 games. He is one of the many players in camp fighting for a bottom-six role, but barring a breakout the rest of the way it is likely that he will start the year in Hartford.
Fogarty is another player who appears to be Hartford bound for the third consecutive season. The 25-year-old originally drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft has tallied back-to-back 20-point seasons in the minors, and it is a little shocking he’s still skating in preseason games given the number of other youngsters in camp.
That leaves Lettieri, a player many thought would be a lock for the bottom-six after the end of the 2017-18 season. The 23-year-old from Excelsior, Minnesota spent 19 games with the Blueshirts and recorded a goal and four assists in 19 games. He also spent 55 games with the Pack, tallying 23 goals and 36 points in 55 games. He is in a dog fight for a spot on the roster, and is competing with forwards such as Ville Meskanen and Michael Lindqvist in addition to the aforementioned veterans.
The defense is a little more straight forward with veterans Marc Staal, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei. taking three of the top six spots. You could argue that Smith is fighting for his job, but it appears he needs to prove that he doesn’t belong more so than he does belong. He is entering the second year of a four-year extension worth $4.35 million a season, and one of the many players who has a clean slate under new head coach David Quinn.
The other defenders dressing include Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo and Frederik Claesson. The battle between Pionk and DeAngelo has been well documented to this point, so we will focus on Claesson briefly. He was signed on free agency day, and at the time Adam pegged him as a No. 6 or No. 7 defensive defenseman, and potentially a future trade deadline asset.
As a lefty, Claesson is fighting an uphill battle with defenders like Skjei, Smith, Staal and Hajek in the mix. There is the potential for him to sneak in if his performance justifies it, but his odds are looking slim at this point. He may find himself in the same camp as John Gilmour, one of the many defenders in camp who isn’t skating vs. the Devils.
In goal will be a mix of Henrik Lundqvist and Marek Mazanec, with the latter looking to prove they deserve to be a backup at the NHL level. If you missed it, Mike wrote a story on the backup battle this morning, and I suggest checking it out.
On the other side, here’s who will suit up for the Devils:
Enjoy the game folks!