The New York Rangers announced their second round of cuts Saturday, reducing the roster to 25 players, which is one away from where the roster will stand come opening day Oct. 7. New York is allowed to have a third goalie for the European regular-season games.
Among the Rangers sent packing to the Connecticut Whale are Tim Erixon, Ryan Bourque, Carl Hagelin, John Mitchell, Kris Newbury, Blake Parlett and Dale Weise. Dylan McIlrath was sent to his WHL team, the Moose Jaw.
With how competitive the battles for the final roster spots have been, these eight demotions are not at all unexpected. The Rangers currently have 14 forwards on the depth chart, and coach John Tortorella wants to start the season with 13. He admitted that Sean Avery and Erik Christensen are duking it out for the final spot and will have until Oct. 5 (the day the Rangers must trim roster by one more) to prove themselves.
Reporters have indicated that Avery is in tip-top shape and he's played well while in the lineup. However, he's had to leave the last two games with injury. In a time when you want to showcase all you can, that doesn't bode well for his chances. Christensen has been invisible for large stretches of the preseason but has a goal, which he recorded in Friday's game.
Tortorella also discussed Erixon's timetable and said that "he still needs to go through the process." It's likely he has a similar path to the NHL that Ryan McDonagh had when he was called up just after the New Year.
New York has eight defensemen on the roster, likely indicating that Michael Del Zotto has a good chance to make the club from the start. The biggest surprises left on the roster include defensemen Stu Bickel. At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds the 24-year-old Bickel is a body-banging type defenseman with not a lot of offensive skills, but he has improved -- and impressed -- thus far. It's likely he'll be sent back once Marc Staal and/or Michael Sauer return from injury.