This morning, General Manager, Glen Sather has announced the Rangers' second round of cuts.
Some of these cuts may come as a bit of a surprise, but rest assured they were for the most part, the right decisions.
Player(s) sent to the Connecticut Whale: (D) Blake Parlett, (D) Tim Erixon, (F) Ryan Bourque, (F) Carl Hagelin, (F) John Mitchell, (F) Kris Newbury, and (F) Dale Weise.
Player(s) returned to Juniors: (D) Dylan McIlrath.
Active Rangers roster: (G) Henrik Lundqvist, (G) Martin Biron, (G) Scott Stajcer, (D) Brendan Bell, (D) Stu Bickel, (D) Michael Del Zotto, (D) Steve Eminger, (D) Dan Girardi, (D) Ryan McDonagh, (D) Mike Sauer, (D) Marc Staal, (F) Artem Anisimov, (F) Sean Avery, (F) Brian Boyle, (F) Ryan Callahan, (F) Erik Christensen, (F) Brandon Dubinsky, (F) Ruslan Fedotenko, (F) Marian Gaborik, (F) Brandon Prust, (F) Brad Richards, (F) Mike Rupp, (F) Derek Stepan, (F) Wojtek Wolski, and (F) Mats Zuccarello.
Let's start off with the notable cuts.
Tim Erixon did not have a stand out camp at all. Whatever he was able to do in Traverse City, he was not able to replicate against NHL competition. He played a great game last night, but the game was played on a larger ice surface, which shows he is not ready for the North American game yet at the NHL level. As such, he was sent down to Connecticut and will start the season there. He will adjust to the smaller ice surface and hopefully be ready to go sometime during the season, much like Ryan McDonagh last year.
Where to start about Ryan Bourque... Bourque has been incredible all pre-season long, starting with Traverse City and ending with yesterday's game against Frolunda. He had four goals in Traverse City and was noticeable every shift. He brought that same effort to the Rangers pre-season and was out there forechecking, blocking shots, basically doing everything you can ask for. He really is an epitome of Ryan Callahan. The only reason why he was sent down is so that he can get playing time and improve because he was stellar all pre-season long.
John Mitchell played very well throughout the pre-season, but there was just no room for him, really. He scored, he hit, he defended well, and is a great asset to have in case of injuries (knock on wood). So while you can make an argument for him being on the final roster, it just doesn't add up, but as you read on, you'll see an argument for him.
Now let's talk about players who avoided the cut.
While he may have been physically cut last night, Sean Avery avoided being cut from the roster this morning. Avery was the Avery of old this pre-season. He agitated, he drew penalties, and he forechecked very well. His hard work led to the Rangers' first goal against Philadelphia the other night. He has really done what was necessary to make it this far. He wasn't being stupid, he seized his opportunities and just played his game the way it should be played, smart.
The one player who I'm upset about making the cut is Erik Christensen. He was practically invisible the entire pre-season and has really done absolutely nothing to earn a roster spot. John Mitchell in my opinion, definitely should have made the cut over Erik. He has done much more to earn the spot and Christensen's goal yesterday may just have been what saved him from being cut. With Zuccarello and Brad Richards on the roster, there is no need for Christensen's shootout presence anymore, and quite frankly that was all he was good for last season. So while we thank him for helping us get to the playoffs, we won't need his services this season.
Mats Zuccarello has done an amazing job all camp long. Instead of going back to his native Norway for the summer, he stayed in North America to work with Barb Underhill to improve his skating and he also improved his strength. In training camp before pre-season games started, Tortorella was praising Zucc for being excellent and really standing out. He has the creativity, vision, and grit to succeed at the NHL level and boy did he show his vision yesterday with two beautiful assists. He has really improved upon his game and is taking the next step.
When the Rangers arrive back in North America, (G) Scott Stajcer will be cut. As of now, Tortorella has said that Avery and Christensen are fighting for the thirteenth forward spot on the roster. So once Stajcer and one of Avery or Christensen get cut, we will have our final roster.