The Rangers pre-season campaign is fifty percent complete, nineteen players have been snipped from the training camp roster, and we’ve gotten a look at the prospects and some new faces that comprise the depth chart of the organization. Othmann has impressed with his production and willingness to bang bodies, Vesey has a chip on his shoulder and has been all over the ice through two games, and Trocheck looks poised to pursue a career year with his new line mate, the bread man. The familiar faces have made their presence known as well, with Kreider and Zibanejad up to their old tricks on the powerplay, Fox and Miller have been dynamic at both ends of the ice and Blais is finally back from LTIR to close out the first leg of the exhibition period.
Following up a 50 goal season with the Flint Firebirds, Brennan Othmann has come into Rangers training camp laser focused. He impressed Gallant enough earlier this month to earn great opportunities to show what he can do in the exhibition games, and he has not let his coach down. He assisted power play and short handed goals against the Islanders in game one, and made a physical impression on the Devils while showing off his skating ability in game three. He’s not afraid of anyone and won’t shy away from mixing it up with the vets, similarly to recent training camp cut Bobby Trivigno, which is impressive for players of their age and limited pro experience. Othmann is an exciting prospect with loads of potential, a prototypical power forward made to be an impact player in today’s NHL. It’s very possible that he earns a roster spot for opening night come October 11, but don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t. The rangers have a wealth of skilled wingers and the last thing they want to do is rush such a promising young talent into a depth role he isn’t equipped to perform in yet. By next season, expect to see Othmann with the big club full time.
Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey is back after bouncing around the league for a couple of years, and he’s getting his first taste of what it means to be one of Gallant’s Rangers. In his last stint in New York, he played under current Sharks coach David Quinn, and his buddies Brady Skjei and Kevin Hayes now wear the jerseys of two different division rivals. Turns out a little less time with the boys at 1 Oak hitting on instagram models and a little more time in the gym makes you a better player, because he has looked fantastic through two games. He’s collected a fistful of points, a beautiful goal from the bottom of the face off circle, and a shot to start a three on three overtime frame which, unfortunately, didn’t go to well. I did, however, appreciate the balls he showed in going for a one versus three on the first possession of OT, which immediately resulted in a turnover and ultimately cost them the game, but it’s just pre-season so there’s no love lost, and it showed me just how hungry he is to change his legacy as a Ranger for the better. Keep cranking out those stick handling drills though, Jim, and my gut tells me I’ll see you on October 11.
Number 10 has a new center, and it’s… still number 16. Don’t worry, it’s not Ryan Strome. He’s missing empty nets in Anaheim now. His name is Vinny Trocheck, you might remember him from getting destroyed in game seven of round two by the Rangers in these past playoffs. DON’T WORRY THOUGH. He’s a really good player, I promise. 51 points in 81 games last year, a strong two way game and a faceoff percentage that’ll make you forget you had to watch Strome fall on his face in the dot all season long last year. He connected with Vesey and Fox on a beautiful goal early in pre-season game two against boston and shared the ice with Vesey in the overtime period. We’ll get another look at him tomorrow against the Devils and he will be the number two center all year barring catastrophic circumstances. He could kill penalties and work the middle on the power play, and I’d say it’s a safe bet he tops his point totals from Carolina now that he’s on a line with one of the leagues best in Artemi Panarin.
Good news for Sammy Blais, P.K. Subban has announced his retirement, your ACL is safe now, buddy. All signs are pointing to the gritty winger starting the year on the top line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, an opportunity he hasn’t had the likes of since his 2019 cup run in St. Louis. You will all like what you see out of this guy in a top six role over a full season. He’s a shooter and he’s not afraid to muck it up in the corners or in front of the net. He’s the perfect replacement for Frank Vatrano, and thirty goals is not out of the question if he finalizes his lease on the RW1 position. He’s going to have some rust to shake off, but that’s what the pre-season is for. It will be a thing of beauty to watch the chemistry develop with this top line, and Blais will be in the running for comeback player of the year by April.
Three games to go until they start to count. I’m confident that once the opening night roster is completed and they all get that chance to get back together in front of a sold out Garden crowd, they’ll be right back to their winning ways we grew accustomed to last season. Set the conservative goal at a division title, and have your sites set on a President’s Trophy bid. The next step is dethroning the Avs and bringing the trophy down the valley of heroes. Strap in Rangers fans, the green flag is about to fly on the 2022-2023 season.