In a surprise, the Rangers signed Micheal Haley to a contract. The veteran agitator made the team following a pro tryout during training camp. This will be the 33-year old center’s second go round as a Blueshirt. He spent nine games on Broadway during ’12-13.
Best known for his tenacity and toughness, Haley has bounced around the league splitting time in the AHL. He’s previously played for the Islanders, Sharks twice, Panthers and now will rejoin the Rangers. With the team opting to go with only 22 players due to a light schedule early, he’ll be the extra forward behind Greg McKegg, who made the roster.
By signing Haley, the Rangers placed Boo Nieves on waivers. If he clears, he’ll be reassigned to Hartford. He didn’t have the best camp. However, it’s surprising that he didn’t make the roster while Haley did. Maybe it’s best for Nieves to move on. He’s been a good teammate. The former second round pick in 2012 has played parts of three seasons in New York. In 72 career NHL games, he’s 5-14-19 with 20 penalty minutes. Hopefully, someone will claim him.
Of course, the bigger news is who didn’t make the Opening Night roster. We knew Filip Chytil wasn’t due to a disappointing camp. Ryan Lindgren going to Hartford isn’t a shocker either due to their infatuation with Libor Hajek. He will need more game play to stay sharp.
However, Vitali Kravtsov not making it is a bit disappointing. Sure. The 19-year old 2018 first round pick taken number nine, has plenty of time to be called up. If he plays well with the Wolf Pack, my guess you’ll see him sooner rather than later.
I thought he deserved to be on the roster. However, the organization decided to start the season with only 22 players. Not 23. So, he goes down to Hartford with Chytil where he’ll get top line minutes and power play time. It’s not the end of the world.
From a development standpoint, it makes sense. I always knew this was a possibility. Especially with the top six set. Ryan Strome will center the second line for now due to nobody proving they’re ready for that big responsibility. David Quinn wanted to give it to Chytil, who played in 75 games last season and never went down. But he showed his age. He is 20 and not physically ready. He should learn the center position in the AHL.
I was willing to see what Kravtsov could do if he played on the third line. Instead, your likely third line is Lias Andersson, Brendan Lemieux and Vladislav Namestnikov. Unless Quinn opts for Jesper Fast and shifts the ornery Lemieux to the fourth line. But they want Lemieux in the top nine. He has chemistry with Andersson and Namestnikov can play either side.
The likely fourth line should look like McKegg, Brett Howden and Fast. A checking unit of two vets and a second-year player who was okay in preseason. All three can kill penalties.
The defense will be Brady Skjei-Jacob Trouba, Marc Staal-Tony DeAngelo, Libor Hajek-Adam Fox. A strong showing allowed Brendan Smith to make it as a versatile extra D who can double as a wing on the fourth line. Full credit to the veteran for proving he still can have a role.
As expected, Igor Shesterkin was sent to Hartford. The KHL import was good in limited action showing why the organization is so high on him. There’s no rush with Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev here.
I’ll have a team preview later. Plus an NHL one by tomorrow.