Hedberg Headlines Second Round Of Cuts

The New York Rangers will be traveling west for the remainder of the pre-season, but six players who were training with the team will not be making the trip.





This leaves 40 players still on the training camp roster who are still competing for 21-23 roster spots.




I never for a second believed that Johan Hedberg truly had a realistic shot of beating out Martin Biron for the backup goaltending job for a number of reasons.  The main reason for inviting him, I speculate, was because the Rangers needed another goaltending body for training camp. Perhaps also as insurance in case one of Lundqvist or Biron got injured. The timing of the decision to release him, however, is a bit strange. The Rangers will be playing five pre-season games in six days during their trip out west and, according to Newsday writer Steve Zipay, Vigneault wants to have four goaltenders for the trip. Only three remain on the roster currently. It's possible that Hedberg asked for the release himself, seeing the writing on the wall after strong performances Biron and Talbot. Or perhaps the Rangers did not want to give Hedberg false hope. Nonetheless, this all but assures that Biron will keep his job, with Talbot as the call-up option.

St. Croix and Nicholls did not get into a pre-season game, which is a bit disappointing. Neither guy had a realistic shot of making the roster out of training camp, however, and will be important offensive players for Hartford this season.

Bourque, a third round pick in 2009, turns 23 in January and becomes a free agent at the end of the season. His future with the Rangers organization is very much in doubt.

Finally, there are few players who were notably not removed from the roster. Dylan McIlrath remains despite a poor game last night. McIlrath was a longshot from the beginning to make the team regardless of his performance purely because of the players in front of him. However, Vigneault is wise to keep McIlrath for the road trip. A few more games against tough competition can only help him learn. Michael Kantor, a prospect signed as a free agent last April, survived the cut ahead of some quality forward prospects. He was impressive in a checking line roll last night against the Flyers, showing solid speed and a willingness to battle and forecheck. Kantor has limited upside, but at 21 years old perhaps he isn't far off from becoming a capable 4th-line energy guy. Kantor grew up a Rangers fan, which provides extra reason to root for his success.


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