One preseason game does not often define a roster spot, but the Rangers' preseason finale against the Bruins on Wednesday has something riding on it for a number of players. Not only are roles in the opening day lineup at stake; for some, it's about making the cut at all.
On Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault reaffirmed that the club, pressed against the salary cap of $71.4 million, will only carry 13 of the 15 forwards remaining in camp and seven of the eight defensemen.
Vigneault, who prefers to have a group of 22 set before the team travels to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for a minicamp on Sunday, a day before the NHL roster deadline, declared that only five of his top six forwards are set: the Mats Zuccarello-Derick Brassard-Rick Nash line and the duo of Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. The second right wing spot, which has been manned by J.T. Miller, is not locked in, he said.VoteRangers 2016-17: Keep 'em or dump 'em?
Two other forwards, rookie Oscar Lindberg and free agent Viktor Stalberg, have impressed, Vigneault said. "They've come in, played hard, played smart. The other guys . . . I'm waiting for somebody to grab it and say, 'This is where I belong and let me play and let's go' . . . That one game is important because we haven't finalized [the roster] and we are still trying to sort things out. We have some decisions to make in the type of team we want to put together."
Four of the players on the bubble will dress Wednesday night. Center Jayson Megna will not, a sign that he is soon to be on the move, either via trade or waivers. If he clears, he will be assigned to Hartford. Tanner Glass and Emerson Etem are the forwards believed to be under scrutiny, and Dylan McIlrath and Raphael Diaz on defense.