The New York Rangers rookie camp starts on Sept. 14, and there are some notable names to keep an eye on. There’s a roster spot or two to be had, and for some of the top prospects, the journey to the opening night lineup starts with this camp. Although most of the roster is set, questions still need to be answered before the start of the season.
Othmann, Cuylle, Jones & Others
The Rangers have some players looking to have a strong showing and parlay that into a strong training camp, which starts on Sept. 21, and an opening night roster spot. Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle are frontrunners in the battle for one of the Rangers’ final roster spots up front. However, how that plays out will depend on Vitali Kravtsov.
Kravtsov had a couple of tumultuous years with the Blueshirts coming out of camp, but he recently signed a one-year, one-way contract, so perhaps both parties can leave that in the past. However, he will need to clear waivers if the Rangers want to send him down to the minors. Besides Othmann and Cuylle, there’s always the slight possibility that a dark horse like Lauri Pajuniemi, Bobby Trivigno, Adam Sykora, or another player will impress enough to claw their way onto the roster.
What About Lundkvist?
According to the New York Post, Lundkvist was hoping to be traded during the offseason and informed the team he won’t be reporting to camp (from ‘Rangers trying to trade frustrated Nils Lundkvist,’ New York Post, 9/01/22). President and general manager (GM) Chris Drury is reportedly working at an “accelerated” rate with Lundkvist’s agent Claude Lemieux to find a place for the 22-year-old defenseman where he can secure a spot in the top four and potentially quarterback the power play. The emergence of Braden Schneider last season, who’s a right-handed shot like Lundkvist, pretty much cemented his spot on the Rangers’ third defensive pairing.
Jones & Roberston Can Slide In
The Lundkvist development opens the door for either Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson to secure the final roster spot on the back end. Both players shoot left-handed and could be a fit as the Blueshirts’ sixth defenseman. Jones has NHL experience, playing 22 games over two seasons, all with the Rangers. Robertson spent the entire 2021-22 season with the Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, Hartford Wolf Pack.
Jones has recorded six points in a Rangers uniform and had 35 points in 52 games with the Wolf Pack last season, while Robertson recorded 11 points in 65 games. Jones was minus-4 with the Wolf Pack and Robertson minus-7. Aside from a difference in offensive production, there’s also a significant size difference between the two. Jones is listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, whereas Roberston is listed at 6-foot-4, 201 pounds. That will likely weigh heavily in the Rangers’ decision-making process throughout the exhibition season.
Vesey on a Tryout
Jimmy Vesey is trying for his second stint with the Blueshirts, coming into camp on a professional tryout offer. The American-born forward broke into the league with the Rangers back in 2016 and played 240 games with the club. He went into the 2020-21 training camp on a similar tryout agreement and made the New Jersey Devils. He’ll be looking to do the same while battling for a spot against top prospects. Vesey will likely fit on the bottom six if he makes the squad.
Lundqvist Named MSG Ambassador
Beloved former Rangers superstar, Henrik Lundqvist, was recently named Ambassador of Madison Square Garden (MSG). The legend had this to say about his new endeavor: “I’m super excited to be the new Ambassador of Madison Square Garden, and all I can say is that every time I walk into that building, it feels like coming home.”
Executive Chairman, MSG Sports and Executive Chairman and CEO, MSG Entertainment, James L. Dolan, had this to say about the announcement: “Henrik Lundqvist has been an exemplary representative of the Rangers, both on and off the ice. In this newly created role, he will be able to utilize his passion for sports and entertainment, as well as for the city he loves so dearly, to support MSG’s businesses and partnerships. We are confident he will have a great impact on our organizations, our brands, and our philanthropic endeavors across New York City.”
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.