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Rangers' opening day roster coming into focus

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) is

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) is congratulated by teammates J.T. Miller (10), Marc Staal (18), Chris Kreider (20) and Dan Girardi (5) after scoring a goal during the third period in an NHL preseason game against the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. Credit: AP / Rich Schultz

With 25 players remaining in training camp, the Rangers' opening day roster of 22 or 23 players likely will come down to the best fits under the NHL's $71.4-million salary cap.

Coach Alain Vigneault said he expects to keep 13 forwards and seven or eight defensemen.

The 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies virtually certain to make the club combine for a salary-cap charge of about $68,224,000 -- goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta, defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle, and forwards Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, Jarret Stoll, Oscar Lindberg, Viktor Stalberg and Dominic Moore.

The players still vying for two or three spots appear to be forwards Jayson Megna, Tanner Glass and Emerson Etem and defensemen Raphael Diaz and Dylan McIlrath. It is expected that those five will be evaluated in the final two preseason games, against the Flyers on Monday night and against the Bruins on Wednesday night, both at Madison Square Garden.

The coaching staff was working on lineups Sunday.

Glass' cap charge is $1.45 million per year for the next two seasons, which puts him at risk. The others have one-year contracts with the following cap charges: Etem, 23, acquired from Anaheim in the draft-day trade for Carl Hagelin, $850,500; Megna, 25, acquired as a free agent, $600,000; Diaz, 29, signed as a free agent, $700,000, and former first-round pick McIlrath, 23, $600,000.

All would have to clear waivers to be reassigned to Hartford (AHL), which is another risk. And because Glass' cap hit is above $1 million, the Rangers cannot "bury" the entire amount in the minors; they would have to retain about $475,000 on their books.

Trades are possible, of course, in order to receive something back (draft picks, for example) and avoid losing a waived player for nothing in return. Teams generally leave up to $1 million in wiggle room under the cap for call-ups when the inevitable injuries occur.

Notes & quotes: Forward Marek Hrivik cleared waivers Sunday and four more players will have to clear Monday in order to be assigned to Hartford: forwards Ryan Bourque, Brian Gibbons and Luke Adam and defenseman Chris Summers . . . Lundqvist said he will play at least one of the two remaining games before the season opener Oct. 7 in Chicago.

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