Very quick post projecting the Rangers opening night forward lineup, should they not make any more moves from here on out. I am still not sold on Frolov, but for $3 million and only a one year deal, there is really nothing to lose by signing him.
Line 1: Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik
Line 2: Frolov-Anisimov-Aasen
Line 3: Avery- Dubinsky-Callahan
Line 4: Boogaard-Drury-Prust
Scratches: Brashear, Boyle, and Weise
Not a very potent lineup when you consider the team’s first line center was a waiver wire pickup from a team that missed the playoffs last season, much like their own fate. Many are expecting Frolov and Gaborik to be on the same line, but the Rangers need to spread the wealth throughout.
Gaborik and Prospal showed great chemistry last season, and Christensen is a top-six forward or bust. He is not defensively responsible and is not a good checker, so he must go on the first line. Gaborik will still put up 40 goals regardless, provided he stays healthy.
The second line has the new addition of Frolov along with Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, who was signed from the Swedish Elite League this summer. He is incredibly fast and has decent skill, so putting him with a defensively responsible Artem Anisimov and the crafty Frolov would get the most out of that line.
Brandon Dubinsky will now find himself in a role he was destined for all along– a third line checking center. With Avery and Callahan on his wings, this will be one of the grittiest lines the Rangers have ever had. They have the ability to be relentless on the puck and pester their opponents. They also have decent speed and can put the puck in the net from time to time.
The Rangers $7 million center, Chris Drury, played his best hockey on the fourth line last season, so he should be there this season unless his play improves. Boogaard and Prust on the wings will add even more toughness, and the Rangers are finally inching towards having a lineup that won’t be smacked around like a rag doll.
This team is still going nowhere, but they will at least be more enjoyable that last year’s disaster. I for one, would really like to see Avery centering a line of Boogaard and Brashear, that way when they lose every game 5-0 it will still be entertaining.