With opening-night rosters due to be filed by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Rangers lineup for the home opener against Colorado on Thursday is all but finalized.
No one was waived Monday while the Rangers were practicing and enjoying outdoor activities in Lake Placid, and general manager Jeff Gorton has said that he was OK with carrying 23 players and about $1.5 million in cap space to start the season.
That indicates that the Blueshirts will begin with 23 players — 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies, with at least a half dozen changes in the starting lineup from the first regular-season game against the Islanders last season.
In recent practices, the lines have been:
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich; Mats Zuccarello-Filip Chytil-Rick Nash; J.T. Miller-Kevin Hayes-Michael Grabner and Jimmy Vesey-David Desharnais-Paul Carey. Jesper Fast, rehabbing from hip surgery and on injured reserve, is wearing a non-contact jersey, and should play this month. Andrew Desjardins remains on a tryout.
The defense duos have been Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk; Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith and Marc Staal-Anthony DeAngelo. Nick Holden and Steven Kampfer have partnered as the extra pair.
Coach Alain Vigneault likes to have eight defensemen for practice, and Gorton doesn’t want to lose Holden, 30, whose defensive play tailed off in the last third of the season but finished with 11 goals and 34 points, or Kampfer, a righthander, via waivers. Holden carries a $1.65-million salary-cap charge in the final season of his contract; Kampfer, 29, signed a two-year extension worth $650,000 a year.
Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec are the goalies.
So at least six players who dressed for the Oct. 13 opening-nighter last season won’t dress for the Avalanche game: Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Adam Clendening (Arizona), Dan Girardi (Tampa), Brandon Pirri (free agent) and Fast. And four other players who were injured or scratched for that 5-3 win are no longer around: Oscar Lindberg (Las Vegas), Kevin Klein (retired), Dylan McIlrath (free agent), and Josh Jooris (Carolina).
There’s one more practice Wednesday, but as of now, only one forward line combination remains from that 2016 game: Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich, a trio who looked sharp before Buchnevich and Zibanejad were hurt. Desharnais, Carey, and impressive Czech rookie Chytil are slated to make their first starts as Blueshirts.
None of the defense pairs are the same, with Shattenkirk, Smith and DeAngelo presumed in; Girardi, Clendening and Holden started last season. Raanta backed up Lundqvist.
n Blue notes
After good performances in the Traverse City prospect tournament and training camp, defenseman Brandon Crawley, 20, from Glen Rock, New Jersey, was signed to an entry-level contract and will start the season in Hartford.