Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that Carl Hagelin has returned to New York to work with a strength and conditioning man rather than complete trip with team. Brooks adds that this was a scheduled trip and not a setback.
…i guess I should trust the Rangers medical staff on this but after what happened with Boogaard as well as other questionable decisions with player concussions (see Staal and Nash), I'm not so sure.
Brooks also says if Darroll Powe ends up making the team, Taylor Pyatt and maybe even Chris Kreider's roster spots could be in jeopardy.
…no way Kreider isn't in the opening day line-up, but between Powe and Pyatt I have to say not only is Powe having the better preseason, he's also more valuable as he's good on faceoffs and can play on the penalty kill.
Finally, Brooks says because of the Rangers cap situation, it is likely the Blueshirts only go with seven defensemen to start the season instead of the eight Alain Vigneault would like.
…whatever. The Rangers AHL team is in Hartford, so if they need an eighth defensemen it wouldn't be hard to get him to the game in time. And how often are there two freak injuries to defensemen during warmups?
…even with just seven, I'd still rather see Allen, who has that spot locked up, in Hartford getting big minutes. So the final D position should come down to Falk and Bickel and with Bickel carrying a salary that's $250,000 less, the much maligned bruiser could actually find himself on the opening night roster.
Speaking of the cap having an effect on the Rangers, Pat Leonard at the Daily News does a tremendous job breaking it down. Here's a snippet…
"If Stepan is not signed by the time rosters are set on Monday at 3 p.m. – and if the Rangers wish to use the LTI exception to free money to sign Stepan afterward – they must place Callahan on LTI. That would keep the captain ineligible for 10 regular season games and 24 calendar days, but it would mean the Rangers could spend up to his $4.275 million salary in temporary replacement.
Now here is the biggest problem with this conclusion: Callahan is a bit ahead of Hagelin in his rehab. LTI would make Callahan ineligible until Oct. 29, but my humble opinion is he will be ready to return much sooner than that, say Oct. 19 at the Devils, perhaps.
Hagelin is not shooting on net at full strength yet, so if someone does go on LTI, I think it only can be him.
So what does this mean?
It means that the Rangers’ only real way to take advantage of the LTI exception, provided Callahan will be back sooner, is to first sign Stepan and then place Hagelin on LTI to have an extra $2.25 million to play with in replacement player(s)."
Leonard adds that the reason the Rangers can't place Hagelin on LTI before signing Stepan is because replacement player’s salary and bonuses may not exceed those of the player on LTI. So if Hagelin were the player to go on LTI, Stepan would not be able to make more than $2.25 million. Which we know isn't an option.
…ouch, my head hurts after reading this. Bottom line is by hook or by crook the Rangers can find room to sign Stepan and even have some cap space left over. So what's the problem?