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That infusion of youth? Delayed.

Uh, that infusion of youth? Postponed. At least for a while. Four touted prospects (Tim Erixon, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Bourque, Dale Weise) have been sent down. None really broke through, like Derek Stepan did last September.

Yes, graybeards Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal are gone. And so is Michael Rozsival from last October. But even when either Sean Avery or Erik Christensen is shipped out, remember that the Rangers added vets Brad Richards and Mike Rupp up front in July. And sure, Mats Zuccarello and Michael Del Zotto have reclaimed sports for the moment, anyway.  

On D, Stu Bickel turns 25 Monday, Brendan Bell is 28. 

No Tim Erixon, 20, or Pavel Valentenko. Not yet anyway.

Yes, the Blueshirts remain a young team, with prospects like the ones above and Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Dylan McIlrath and Jesper Fasth rising. But unless there's a dramatic trade, the opening-night roster will not have a rookie. 

Then again, it's always important to remember: The squad that starts the season usually doesn't resemble the one that finishes.  

“I think he has a bright future,” Tortorella said of Erixon. “I know everybody talked about him stepping in and playing but that’s a very difficult thing to do in the NHL, especially on defense. The most important thing is getting him playing immediately, getting him used to the North American style. We want him to follow Ryan McDonagh (who spent the first half of last season in the AHL before being recalled and blossoming into a top-four defenseman)…Hagelin and Bourque, they need to go and play. Weise, he had an even better camp this year than last, he’ll probably get some games in along the way.” Weise does have to clear waivers, however.
 

The 6-foot-4 Bickel, who turned 25 today, and Brendan Bell, 28, who played in Switzerland last season, survived the trims; either could be sent to the Connecticut Whale when Michael Sauer recovers from his right shoulder sprain and Marc Staal recovers from his concussion-related headaches. “When you have injuries, it gives other people the opportunity to step up,” Tortorella said of Bickel. “He has certainly done that. I’m impressed.”
 

With Bickel, but without Bell, Avery or Christensen, the Rangers are at $60,670,667, comfortably under the $64.3-million salary cap required by Oct. 5, the day before the NHL season opens

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