According to the New York Rangers website, seventy players have been invited to training camp. That might be a record. Last year there were fortyÂ players at camp. It’s a good thing they don’t hold training camp at the University of Vermont anymore. There probably aren’t enough hotels rooms to accommodate such a mass gathering in Burlington.Â Imagine theÂ dent that hotelÂ bill wouldÂ putÂ in MSG’s pocket.
In addition to all the signed Ranger players, those trying out run the gamut from veteran Ranger retread Petr Nedved to the undrafted 21 year old son of Mark Messier, Lyon. Â It begs the question as to why they call it a training camp. Evaluation Camp would be a more suitable moniker.Â
While a few of the players have started trickling in, training camp doesn’t officially open untilÂ September 16. The Rangers play their first preseason game in Ottawa five days later the 20th. That would mean that they have to pare down the roster to a more manageable number. Pick a number. 50? 40?Â Forty would seem more likely since that was what they had last year at the start of camp.Â
Let’s say they do pare it down to forty by September 20. TheyÂ have to evaluate 30 players in just four days.Â Okay, say ten, maybe 15 of those players didn’t have a hope in hell of making the team anyway. This means 15 playersÂ will have theirÂ fatesÂ decided in four days. Considering that the Rangers have to set a 23 player roster before the season startsÂ in Prague, the odds for these 15 players are pretty long. It makes the discovery of a player of the caliber of Dan Girardi seem like a miracle.
Let’s cut to the chase here. By my reckoning, 34 of the 70 players are only here for a look see. They areÂ bound for Hartford, Charlotte, Juniors, College or oblivion. That leaves 36 players over which some hard decision making has to be made. While there are a dearth of left wings, there is a plethora of centers, right wings and defensmenÂ to consider. Here, in no particular order and by position, are those players.
Naslund, Dawes, Prucha, Korpikoski, Voros,Â Nahanahs
Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky, Betts, Anisimov, Fritsche, Rissmiller, Nedved
Zherdev, Sjostrom, Callahan, Orr, Jamtin, Moore, Parenteau
Redden, Staal, Roszival, Mara, Girardi, Kalinin, Kondratiev, Pock, Sanguinetti, Sauer
Lundqvist, Valiquette, Wiikman, Brodeur, Zaba
You have my permission toÂ get out your graph paper, pencils and rulers and doodle with your line combinations and defensive pairingsÂ until October 4th. The long wait is almost over.