Backup goaltending gig open for competition

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
3:12
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- According to coach Alain Vigneault, there will be a competition for the backup goaltending job at Rangers training camp.

Vigneault acknowledged that former Devil Johan Hedberg, who recently signed a professional tryout contract with the team, has the chance to push incumbent backup Martin Biron for the gig.

"I would say yes," Vigneault said, before stressing the importance of a reliable No. 2 goaltender during an Olympic year. "We need a backup goaltender that can play and win us some games."

Hedberg, regarded as one of the steadiest backups in the league, played 81 games over the past three seasons while backing up future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur in New Jersey.
Biron played 44 games the past three seasons behind former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.

Biron is already under contract with the Rangers, but he missed the first two days of camp for "personal reasons."

The 36-year-old Quebec native didn’t go into specifics about the situation, but he said he is now completely present and focused on rejoining the team.

“I’m not going to get into details,” Biron said. “It’s just how life is sometimes and you’ve got to roll with it. I was fortunate I was able to get home and now be back.”

Asked whether the situation is settled, Biron said:

“I’m here 100 percent. I’m where I need to be. I’m focused and I’m really where I wanted to be this morning.”

• • •


Defensive prospect Dylan McIlrath, 21, sounded relieved to have a clean bill of health for training camp. The former first-round draft pick said that his surgically-repaired knee is now 100 percent and that he’s eager to make a good impression on organizational brass.

McIlrath, who was selected 10th overall in 2010, said he hopes to show that he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL.

“I think so; I hope so,” he said after skating with the first group in Friday’s one-ice session. “I just have to prove it to the new guys and I have to prove it to myself, too.”

McIlrath said he rehabbed his knee for 30 minutes before every workout this summer and has been working on his leg strength to ensure the injury does not happen again.

Now that he’s fully able to compete for a job, he knows making the opening-day roster will be tough, especially considering the organizational depth on defense.

“I’m going to have to win a spot,” McIlrath said. “If I make the team, I’m going to have to beat a really good player out.”

• • •


JT Miller, who "tweaked" his hamstring Thursday during conditioning laps, appeared to re-aggravate the injury.

The 20-year-old prospect left the ice early again on Friday with the same issue. His availability for Saturday is not immediately known.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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