With the New York Rangers being in a bind with cap space currently, chances are they will take a chance bringing up some younger players to fill in roles when needed. They are short, especially when its comes to offense, on the 3rd and 4th lines and that’s where these players will fit in. Alain Vigneault has also mentioned wanting some younger players to get some time in the lineup. Here is a breakdown of what you might see out of the younger players coming up through the Rangers system on offense and how they got to this point so far. Defensive players will be featured tomorrow.
JT Miller, Center
Miller is truly a center, but has seen some time both there and on the wing for the Rangers. He will be looked at to fill in at the center position at training camp. He played under the United States National Developmental Program for a few years before a point-per-game season with Plymouth of the OHL. He joined the Connecticut Whale for their playoff run after going pro at the end of his OHL season. His AHL career has been very stellar as a two-way forward and that is what he will be looked at for with the Rangers. He does have some offensive-upside in his game but has yet to show it in the NHL with only 10 points in 56 games thus far. If he can provide some points for the Rangers while taking care of his defensive duties he could see a full season with Alain Vigneault.
Oscar Lindberg, Center
Lindberg was acquired via a trade with Phoenix (now Arizona) back in May of 2011 and has blossomed into a two-way, defensive center playing mainly in the Swedish Elite League. In his final season before turning pro, he scored 17-25-42 in 55 games playing for Skelleftea AIK, which was a big help in leading them to a championship. In his first AHL season in Hartford, Lindberg played 75 games and had 44 points. He has steadily gotten better as he has climbed the pro ranks and will be a depth center option for the Rangers this season. He has a great work ethic among on-ice awareness. Although steady on the defensive end, he has playmaking abilities and tends to score his points in big games, something the Rangers could always use. He could play some minutes this year if he proves he can play at the NHL level.
Danny Kristo, Right Wing
Kristo was acquired in what was regarded as a bigger minor league deal with Christian Thomas going to Montreal in return for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux winger. Kristo played his junior hockey in the United States, both with the National Development Program and in the USHL. Kristo has won an NCAA Championship, World Junior Gold, among plenty of individual-college honors during his development. He finished with 161 points in 157 games in his 4-year North Dakota career. This past season with the Wolfpack, Kristo was among their best players, scoring 25 goals in 65 games. He has a small frame at only 5’11” and 185 pounds but has the potential to be a speedy, scoring winger at the NHL level. He has proven to score thus far wherever he has played the Rangers may insert him for scoring depth this season.
Jesper Fast, Right Wing
A later-round draft pick for the Rangers, Fast is another Swedish Elite League product that developed over time. Regarded as a great forechecker with excellent hockey sense, Fast could be more offensive depth for the Rangers. He is a strong skater, another guy the fits into the speed of AV’s system. He has had an 11 game grooming period with the Rangers, but failed to find the scoresheet so far. With the struggling Wolfpack this past season, Fast was steady with 17-17-34 in 48 games. He will surely be at camp and be another one of those kids getting a look to replace Beniot Pouliot and Brian Boyle.
Ryan Haggerty, Right Wing
Haggerty was a college free agent signing in 2014 by the Rangers after a stellar junior season at RPI with 43 points. Another USNDP player, Haggerty brings a thicker frame weighing 200 pounds at 6 foot tall. He is an option but likely will be lower on the depth chart.
These are the players that will most likely be at training camp with the most likely shot to grab a spot for opening night. Some of the other players the Rangers would like to see continue to improve over the next few years include Pavel Buchnevich, Anthony Duclair, Marek Hrivik, Cristoval Nieves, and Steven Fogarty. Return tomorrow for the defensive options the Rangers have in the system and for the future.