One thing that we can be sure about next season is that there will be injuries. If we learned anything from this postseason, it’s that you can never have enough depth, because you never know when the injuries will begin to mount. It was one area that Slats worked very diligently to address this offseason, and he did a mighty fine job at doing so.
For the sake of this post, we are going to assume a few things:
- The entire roster is healthy. The point is to see who would be the first call up following an injury from a roster at full strength, then work our way down.
- Arron Asham and Darroll Power will be in the AHL. It’s a cap thing and a roster space thing at this point. The same goes for Aaron Johnson.
- Chris Kreider makes the opening day roster. J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, and the other kids people might have penciled in, do not.
- No trades from now until the season starts.
These aren’t exactly ground-breaking assumptions, just things we have been able to infer from the roster moves so far.
Dominic Moore/Taylor Pyatt/Derek Dorsett – One of these three will be the 13th forward, so in all likelihood they will be the first person inserted into the lineup in case of injury. This one’s a no-brainer.
Arron Asham/Darroll Powe – This one is less of a given, because you never know what the Rangers will choose to do with waivers. That said, I find it to be more likely that one of these two will be recalled if there is an injury to a bottom-six player, specifically a fourth line player. Considering the roles they would have with the team, if someone like Dorsett gets hurt, I can envision Asham getting the call. If it’s someone else, then Powe will get the call.
Micheal Haley (update by Dave, 10:30am) – I completely forgot about Haley, but I would have to assume he gets the call before Mashinter, since he has more NHL experience. I still think that Asham and/or Powe are the first call ups, then Haley if need be.
Brandon Mashinter – Mash is a toss-up. He would bring a nice physical edge to the lineup, but he’s behind Asham in the call up pecking order. Mashinter’s call up would only be required if there are multiple injuries, or a few players forget how to play hockey. If one of Asham/Powe gets moved/hurt, then Mashinter probably jumps up the list a bit. Of course, this is dependent on how he plays in the AHL.
J.T. Miller – Like Mash, Miller is a toss-up. I can see him getting a call up if a top-nine guy is hurt and they want to see how much Miller has progressed. They won’t stick him on the fourth line, that’s one thing we can count on. But also like Mash, Miller will only get a call up if he deserves it. That wrist injury is a cause for concern too.
Danny Kristo/Jesper Fast/Oscar Lindberg – This trio won’t get a cuppa right away. The Rangers need to evaluate what they have, evaluate how they adjust to the pro (or North American) game, and see how they play in the AHL. Each of these three remind me of Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers wanted to see what they had, and he dominated in the AHL for half a season before getting recalled.
Justin Falk – Falk is likely the 7th defenseman, so he will get inserted into the lineup in case of injury. He’s also the best option they have in terms backup defensemen, so this isn’t a surprise. If the very large (6’5″, 215-lb) can keep his feet moving, then he could be a long-term injury replacement if need be.
Danny Syvret/Aaron Johnson – These two vets are the 8th and 9th defensemen on this team, although the order is yet to be determined. If the Rangers are penny-pinching, then Johnson gets the first call because he’s on a one-way deal. Syrvet’s AHL salary is $275k, which is $325k less than Johnson’s AHL salary ($600k). Since this isn’t a team that is known for penny-pinching, let’s assume that the player having the better AHL season will get the call first.
Dylan McIlrath – McIlrath is a tricky case. Last season was a setback because of that gruesome knee injury, but he came back strong. This is actually a big year for the defenseman, as he needs to show that he can overcome his injury last season and learn from Jeff Beukeboom this season. If McIlrath progresses nicely and has a strong season, you could see him get a cuppa towards the end of the season.
Stu Bickel – I kind of feel bad for Bickel. He was seen as the Mike Sauer replacement during his first stint with the Rangers, but his skating was exploited very quickly, and it’s something he either hasn’t worked on or hasn’t had the chance to work on. That said, unless his skating improves, he will be in the AHL for a bit.
Conor Allen – The club needs to see what they have in Allen. They could have a solid guy who shows he can play at the pro level, or they could have an ECHL guy. I wouldn’t expect him to get a cuppa this season, but performance can change all that.
Cam Talbot – The list begins and ends with Talbot. If the Rangers need to go searching for someone beyond him, then they are in deep, deep trouble.
The common theme with the call ups, aside from the shoo-ins like Asham, Powe, Johnson, and Syrvet, is that it is all performance based. Last year, we saw a roster spot handed to Kreider even though his AHL performance didn’t warrant it. We also saw J.T. Miller get a cuppa, but his cuppa lasted about 15 games too long due to depth issues. The Rangers won’t make these mistakes again.