The New York Rangers are back in action this week…sort of.
The start of training camp kicks off with rookies reporting on Wednesday. There, several of New York’s top prospects will meet to make their mark on the coaching staff.
The Rangers are a team that is loaded with major league talent. There are very few spots on offense and even fewer on defense. That makes the upcoming week even more important for the young prospects to step up and show that they belong with the top club.
Here are five names to keep an eye on before tomorrow’s camp.
5. Nils Lundkvist
We start with a player who will not take part in training camp.
Why? Because the controversy surrounding the former first-round pick will dominate the news cycle for the Rangers until a final decision is made.
Lundqvist had reportedly asked for a trade, and the Rangers are taking calls on the young defenseman. The loaded defensive group in front of Lundkvist was one of the main reasons for the team to look at other avenues for the player they gave an entry-level contract to in 2021.
Lundkvist, 22, had just 4 points in 25 NHL games during the 2021-22 campaign.
How the Rangers handle the Lundkvist situation during camp this year will be one of the top storylines heading into the season.
4. Matthew Robertson
New York has an open defensive spot available on the final line to pair with Braden Schneider. While there are players like Zac Jones and Libor Hajek who are expected to fill the final spot, this is a good chance for the Rangers’ top defensive prospect to make a stronger case for the role.
Robertson recorded 11 points in 65 games with the Hartford Wolfpack last season.
It’s perfectly fine to expect Jones to win the final defensive starting spot with Schneider, but a strong showing from Robertson could very well make Gerard Gallant and Chris Drury’s decision even more difficult.
3. Bobby Trivigno
The former UMASS standout is looking to make a big impression on the Rangers coaching staff after a solid development camp, and a strong showing in the AHL last season.
Trivigno is an undrafted free agent, but his fiery play and puck skills have led him to become someone that fans and analysts alike want to keep an eye on. There are flashier names like Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle that could use a strong camp to springboard onto the NHL roster, but Trivigno is a fan favorite that can help himself even more with a strong showing.
It will be very interesting to see how the young forward plays on Wednesday.
2. Dylan Garand
New York has plenty of goaltender prospects that are looking to take the next step.
While the top netminder is secured with Igor Shesterkin for the foreseeable future, the goaltender behind him could be an open spot early in the season. Jaro Halak is a solid second goalie, but at 37 years old, the Slovakian netminder is not guaranteed to be able to last the season.
Rookie camp would be an excellent spot for the Rangers’ top goaltender prospect, Dylan Garand to step up and show that he’s ready to take the leap to the major league club. Garand is coming off a superb performance in World Juniors where he went 6-0 for Team Canada and could be a name to watch as he looks to get the most out of his chances here.
1. Brennan Othmann
Is this the year for the top Rangers prospect?
Othmann dominated the OHL last season with 97 points for the Flint Firebirds. New York could let him continue to dominate inferior competition like that or they can give the first-round pick a chance to make the big league club here.
Rookie camp, and the following week when the veterans join, will be important for Othmann. The Ontario product played well in World Juniors for Team Canada and is conceivably behind a plethora of offensive weapons that have a bit more NHL experience.
But if Othmann dominates in camp and shows that he’s a lot stronger than he was when he first joined the team, it will be hard for Drury and Gallant to send Othmann back down.
While the expectation is we won’t see Othmann at the start of the season, a solid training camp could lead to his number getting called earlier than expected.