It’s almost hard to believe but another NHL season is about to get underway. If you’ve been like many other hockey fans trying to steal as much TV time watching preseason games like me, you’re truly ready for these games to start counting. The Rangers roster seems to be falling into place and GM Chris Drury along with head coach Gerard Gallant are assembling the necessary chess pieces to make another run at the Stanley Cup in 2022-23.
Big Roster Decisions:
Maybe showing up to the Rangers training camp on a PTO (professional tryout) contract has actually been a bit of a blessing for Jimmy Vesey since he’s used his time in camp to his full advantage. The biggest question remains as whether the Rangers will carry 23 players on their active roster or not which of course will impact Vesey’s future, if any, with the Blueshirts. Vesey has found a way into the mix in three preseason games so far and has two assists and a power play goal so far. Having to fight for a roster spot via a PTO is not foreign to Vesey who had to do the same thing last year with the New Jersey Devils on one of his journeyman stops in the NHL. During his PTO contract with the Devils, Vesey registered two goals in three preseason games – good enough to make the Devils active roster.
Vesey specializes in the penalty kill and could still find himself garnering a roster spot based on that fact alone. With his grinding, physical style of play and NHL playing experience, the Rangers may see value in keeping Vesey around as a special teams kind of player who can really out when needed and find himself slotted for a fourth line spot on the regular lineup. Bouncing around from team to team seems to be Vesey’s M.O. but maybe this second time around will be the charmer to keep Vesey wearing a Rangers sweater for the conceivable future.
Rangers Power Play:
The Rangers look like they’ve decided on their power play units for this season with the first line being Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck and Adam Fox. The Rangers ranked fourth in the NHL on the power play with a 25.2% goal rate with 55 goals including Chris Kreider accounting for a league-leading 26 of those goals. Notably missing from this first power play unit is Zac Jones who specializes in the power play but hasn’t cracked any of the full strength lines as of yet. Jones is a young play (21 years of age) but seems to run the power play like a veteran quarterback runs a football offense. However, the talent to lead a power play unit is no guarantee of a roster spot in the NHL and Jones may find himself continually on the outside looking in for a roster spot before the season opens up officially next week.
And there were Two: the fate of Louis Domingue
it looks like the Rangers are going to stick with a tandem of Vezina Trophy winning goalie Igor Shesterkin along with a solid, veteran backup netminder in Jaroslav Halak. Louis Domingue was brought into training camp as a sort of “third wheel” type of goalie and has been assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Domingue was able to get into two preseason games and allowed three goals on 32 shots with a 2.97 goals-against average and a .906 save average.
Domingue does bring plenty of experience with him to Hartford and has played in 142 NHL games during his career. If anything, Domingue remains a true backup insurance policy in case of injuries to either Shersterkin and Halak and can be recalled if needed. Domingue signed a two year, $1.55 million dollar deal with the Rangers in July and as a third-string goalie he will head to Hartford to anchor the Wolf Pack defense and ready to move back into the Rangers locker room if needed.