The Rangers redcuced their training camp roster to 30 on Wednesday afternoon, assigning nine players---including top prospects Dylan McIlrah and Danny Kristo---to the club's AHL affiliate in Hartford. Joining McIlrath and Kristo in heading to the Wolf Pack are goaltender Cam Talbot, forwards Micheal Haley, Michael Kantor, and Andrew Yogan, and defensemen Aaron Johnson, Tommy Hughes, and Danny Syvret.
McIlrath, the Rangers first round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, appeared in one pre-season game in his uphill battle to earn a spot on the Rangers blueline. The rugged defenseman will benefit from more time in the minor leagues after his first year as a pro was limited to 45 games a year ago following knee surgery.
Kristo, who was acquired from Montreal in exchange for Christian Thomas this past summer, was given a long look by Alain Vigneault and his staff, appearing in three of the Rangers' first four pre-season games. Though he had several good scoring opportunities, Kristo did not register a goal in those three games, but he did pick up an assist on Dominic Moore's tally in the pre-season opener in New Jersey last week.
Coming off a tremendous senior year with the University of North Dakota, Kristo impressed with a seven-point performance through four games at the Traverse City Tournament for prospects, and had a very strong training camp. He played in back-to-back games this week against Calgary and Edmonton, though he was a minus-three against the Oilers last night.
Haley, Johnson, and Syvret were veteran players fighting for spots on the opening night roster, while youngsters Yogan, Kantor, and Hughes were longshots to make the team. Talbot appeared in two games in the pre-season, but none this week as Vigneault settled on Martin Biron once again to serve as Henrik Lundqvist's back-up in goal.
Vigneault has stated that his perfect scenario would be to carry 13 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies on the NHL roster, but admitted that salary cap restraints may alter that goal. With 30 players remaining in camp, the Rangers would have to make at least seven more personnel moves prior to opening night. Among the players still on the training camp roster are Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, neither of whom has been cleared for contact following off-season shoulder surgery and thus likely to start the regular season on the sidelines.
Right now the Rangers have nine defensemen remaining in camp, with the Top Six---Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, and John Moore---seemingly set. That would leave Stu Bickel, Justin Falk, and surprising rookie Conor Allen battling for one or two spots.
Nineteen forwards are still in camp for the Rangers, including rookies Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik, and Jesper Fast.