The Rangers trimmed their roster by 11 players Monday, leaving just a handful of cuts before finalizing the locker room for the start of the regular season Oct. 9 in Buffalo.
Among the cuts was prime prospect Evgeny Grachev, as well as small-but-shifty forward Mats Zuccarello. The latter cut makes me particularly sad, mostly because it denies me the opportunity of using “Norwegian Hobbit Wizard” in headlines this season.
A bigger theme of the cutdown is how it relates to the organization’s immediate future. For all of the talk about a youth movement on Broadway, it sure seems like the team plans to lean on its veterans this season, at least at forward. Impressive center Derek Stepan is the only rookie among the 16 remaining forwards. There's a little more youth on defense, with Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Pavel Valentenko sticking around on the blue line at least a little longer. D Matt Gilroy and F Artem Anisimov, both entering their second NHL seasons, also survived the cuts.
With the roster down to 27, the Rangers still need to cut at least four players, though if memory serves it’s been some time since a John Tortorella team carried a full roster of 23.
A little more on this later today, but ESPN The Magazine’s 2010-11 projections (via Puck Prospectus) place the Rangers seventh in the East. (Insider) Some simple math tells you that puts the Rangers in the playoffs this spring.
A few more projections, Blueshirt Banter offers their point projections for Ranger forwards this season.
Larry Brooks pens a very entertaining column, emphatically reminding everyone that Redden earned his demotion to Hartford with two lousy years on the ice in Gotham.
Andrew Gross discusses the Ranger cuts some more and mentions he believes Zuccarello will return to Broadway this season. (Viva Bilbo Blueshirt!)