In years past John Tortorella has stated at the outset of training camp his desire to incorporate young players on to the roster, believing that is an important factor in growing a successful team.
Players like Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov, Michael Sauer, and Michael Del Zotto have benfited in the past from this mindset, becoming key contributors to the Rangers under Tortorella. But with less than a week of training camp this year the Rangers will bring only the expected players into camp, with no real opportunities for youngsters to make the team at the start.
The exception, of course, is Chris Kreider, the team's top pick in the 2009 NHL Draft who made his pro debut during the playoffs last spring and scored five goals. despite an uneven 33 games with the Connecticut Whale so far this season---he had just 5 goals and 12 points. It has been expected since last spring that Kreider would be a part of this year's Rangers mix, and clearly he is going to be given every chance to break camp with the NHL team, possibly starting on a third line alongside with Brian Boyle and eventually moving up if his offensive game picks up.
But other than Kreider the Rangers do not have major positional battles or roster battles shaping up. Who earns the sixth post on defense---assuming Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto (unsigned RFA), and Anton Stralman occupy the Top 5 slots---might be the lone debate in camp. Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger are the options right now, and it will be seen whether or not the team offers Matt Gilroy an NHL contract to join the battle.
Barring injuries, there should not be any surprises when the Rangers break camp and start the season next weekend.
Is there a player who you think should be considered for an NHL roster spot that is not among the current crop of players working out together? Share your comments below.