This morning the New York Rangers have announced that they have slimmed down their training camp roster by 11 players. Some of them came as a surprise, while others were more expected. The Rangers assigned Chad Johnson, Dale Weise, Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello, and Wade Redden to Hartford, released Brandon Manning, Alexei Semenov, and Garnet Exelby from tryouts, and will assign Dane Byers, Kris Newbury, and Jeremy Williams to continue training camp with Hartford.
To begin with, I was really surprised that they cut Mats Zuccarello so quickly. He was brought here with the initial thought of being able to produce offensively in a top-six role. There were a lot of high hopes for him, both from fans and management, and he just did not seem to find any groove this training camp. He was pretty much invisible in the three games he played.
Meanwhile, Evgeny Grachev is another player who has gone invisible, two training camps in a row. Last season, there could have been the excuse that he was getting used to hockey in North America, but after a season in Hartford, and a lackluster one at that, he should have been ready this time around. I have the feeling that this Russian forward will go the way of Bobby Sanguinetti and amount to nothing, because let’s face it, he was a third round pick who never got any attention until the unfortunate passing of Alexei Cherepanov.
For Dale Weise, I thought he played well and if the Rangers did not have such a log-jam at forward, he would have made the team. He showed good physical ability and even chipped in an assist in the first game of the preseason.
The Rangers also released Alexei Semenov from his tryout with the Rangers. I was actually very surprised at this because I thought he played well, and his size and strength would have been a welcome sight on the blue-line. However, I believe his cutting means that Pavel Valentenko will make the team, as he has been very physical and even has a good shot to boot. He will battle it out with Ryan McDonagh, but I think he holds the edge. Steve Eminger, meanwhile, will most likely get the job as the team’s seventh defenseman even though I was not impressed with what I saw from him.
Garnet Exelby too was cut, which was expected after the awful game he had against the Devils on Saturday night. The cuts to Newbury, Williams and Byers were also expected, and each one of them has to clear waivers before being assigned to Hartford.
The Rangers are now down to their two goaltenders, but are carrying nine defenseman and 16 forwards. I expected the Rangers to cut two more defenseman and two more forwards in the days to come.
Look for a post later this afternoon by Joe Aiello as he gives us what he expects to be our lineup for the season.