The New York Rangers are just about a week away from the start of the 2022-23 regular season. The Rangers sit at a comfortable 2-1-1 in the preseason with several key standouts already looking as though they are ready for the season-opening start.
That being said, there are still a few roster decisions that need to be made. The Rangers currently sit at 28 players on their roster and need to make a minimum of five roster moves before the season begins.
So who will end up being on the starting roster for New York once the season rolls around? Let’s get to our latest projections following the four preseason games last week.
Rangers Forward Lines
1st Line: Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Alexis Lafreniere
As much as I want to see the Kid Line stay together, and the preseason has shown how good they can be, the way the Rangers are constructed now tells me that they are prepared to move Lafreniere up to play with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Will New York be moving their lines throughout the early portion of the season? Of course, but it makes sense to have the former first overall pick on the top line.
2nd Line: Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, Vitali Kravtsov
The work that Vitali Kravtsov has done with Artemi Panarin on the side has all but guaranteed the role on the second line will be his once the season starts. Kravtsov has a ton of potential but it’s taken a little bit to blossom as he’s playing against the top players of the game. Ranger fans need to be patient with their first-round pick as the season progresses.
3rd Line: Sammy Blais, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko
Sammy Blais has looked like a physical presence no matter where he plays. I like the idea of keeping parts of the Kid Line together and think Kakko and Chytil can work well together with more ice time. The question will ultimately end up being how much of the Kid Line’s success was because of Lafreniere and how well can Blais mix in with Kakko and Chytil.
4th Line: Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow
Jimmy Vesey has earned a spot on the starting roster. His work in the preseason has almost guaranteed a spot. The real question will be what happens with Ryan Reaves and Barclay Goodrow. These fourth lines are going to be changing a lot early on, but with Goodrow wearing the “A” last season, and Carpenter being the free agent signing, I expect both to be safe as well.
Rangers Defensive Pairs
1st Pair: Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox
2nd Pair: K’Andre Miller, Jacob Trouba
3rd Pair: Zac Jones, Braden Schneider
Nothing is changing in my opinion on these lines. The position battle between Zac Jones and Libor Hajek has been dominated by Jones throughout camp and the preseason. His ability to calmly deliver the puck will make things much easier on the defensive end for the Rangers. The Fox-Lindgren and Miller-Trouba lines are pretty straightforward. I just don’t see how Hajek has outworked or outperformed Jones through the last few weeks.
Igor Shesterkin, Jaroslav Halak
Louis Domingue has been sent to the AHL so there’s no surprise here at goaltender. Shesterkin has played well in preseason games, and in practice, and Halak has done a serviceable job when he’s played as well. There are going to be questions on Halak’s availability with him being 37 years old, but he’s as good a backup as they come.
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