A Look At The Rangers Forward Prospects That Could Make The Opening Night Roster
The bell has rung for the start of the New York Rangers rebuild, ushering in changes to everything that has made the Blueshirts one of the NHL’s most successful teams for nearly a decade.
This team has to become younger and faster in order to compete with the rest of the NHL. Moves were made to make this new direction a reality when general manager Jeff Gorton sent JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh to Tampa Bay, Rick Nash and Nick Holden to Boston, and Michael Grabner to New Jersey. But perhaps the move that excited Rangers fans more than anything was the firing of former head coach Alain Vigneault at season’s end.
Come October, the opening night roster is filled with holes that could be filled with a plethora of different names. Some of those names will be figured out once the remaining RFAs are re-signed with or without arbitration hearings. But even if Gorton and company can bring back all four RFAs, the roster will still look like Swiss cheese.
Vitali Kravtsov would be a big name on this list of making it opening night, but his status is uncertain as he may be in the KHL for the 2018-19 season. If he does decide to stay in North America next season, the 2018 first-round selection would certainly get a shot at cracking the opening night roster.
To fill out the rest of the roster, Jeff Gorton has two options. He can look to bring in veteran free agents as a “stop-gap” while the Rangers prospects are developing. The other choice for Gorton is to allow the kids to play in the NHL from the beginning of the season and letting them learn on the job under head coach David Quinn.
Jordan wrote on ForeverBlueshirts last week about which defensive prospects may be able to make the opening roster. So without further ado, here is the list of forward prospects that could be suiting up for the Rangers at MSG on Oct. 4.
Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson
These two should be a given. With each spending a significant amount of time at the AHL level last season, as well as playing a few games with the Rangers, these two should be ready to go on opening night. AV didn’t let these kids find time to grow and mature inside of their very limited window to play. By playing under the ten-game limit, their contracts slide for one more possible season that they are signed to the New York Rangers.
Both Chytil and Andersson will be watched heavily by both fans and the Rangers front office, as both are going to be key pieces of this rebuild; their growth is what will help or hurt this team.
The Rangers seventh-round pick in 2016, Ty Ronning has been one of the Rangers most admirable prospects. I would say that he has a very good chance of suiting up on opening night against Nashville. Ronning has lit up the scoresheets for years, and last season with his WHL club, the Vancouver Giants, was no different. With Vancouver, he amassed 218 points in 285 games with the club.
“A small but industrious speedster that always seeks to be engaged in the play. Skates very well and has the shiftiness to avoid being rubbed out. Isn’t afraid of physical play, but knows his role as an offensive catalyst and plays to his strengths. Excellent hands and hockey sense. Only knock is his size, but that doesn’t impede his compete level. Possesses the fundamental skills and natural goal scoring instincts that make the players around him better. – EliteProspects.com.
At 20-years-old, he seems to be old enough to make the jump to the AHL level. Ronning is a right winger, something the Rangers desperately need. Sure, the Canadian juniors and the AHL/NHL levels are completely different in terms of competitiveness and skill, but Ronning may be ready now.
Ronning has seen time with Hartford over the past two season for a short while. He has appeared in 15 games for Hartford and has contributed five points.
Brett Howden is another highly touted offensive player that could be making a splash in 2018-19. While Howden was a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, he had a very short stint at the AHL level. With the Syracuse Crunch, Howden appeared in five games and scored four points.
Other than that, he has captained the Moose Jaw Warriors and has racked up a significant amount of points. Howden scored 266 points in his four years with the Warriors in 248 games for the WHL club, which is good enough for 1.08 PPG. Howden plays the center position which seems to be a really finicky spot at the moment. Depending on the re-signing of Hayes and/or Spooner, Howden could end up in either Hartford or MSG to start next season.