The Rangers return from the eight-day All-Star break and return with as many as 23 players on their roster.
In addition to the recall of Will Quayle from Hartford, the end of Sammy Bliss’ two-week conditioning assignment to the American Hockey League has now limited the Rangers’ salary cap space in preparation for the trade deadline. A decision to return from layoff with a 23-man roster doesn’t make sense, unless there’s another development in the works or the Rangers believe they have more cap space to accomplish what they want to do. Will be needed. The clock strikes 3 in the afternoon on March 3.
“We’re allowed 23, why not?” The Rangers returned to practice Sunday afternoon at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, head coach Gerard Gallant said. “The kid came in here and played well and he deserved another call-up.”
The child Gallant is referring to is Cuylle. It seems as if Rangers either liked what they saw from Cuylle or are just curious and want to see more. Otherwise, the organization would prefer to replace the cap rather than bring the big-bodied winger back to the varsity squad after a solid two-game audition before the break.
Cuylle, who returned to Hartford during Rangers’ break from game action and scored a goal in one of the three games he played, clearly made an impression in the fourth-line role the club clearly needed. What is imagined?
“Honestly, you guys want to play,” Gallant said. “We always talk about young guys, if they’re not going to play, they should play in the minor leagues, obviously, when they don’t have to clear waivers. That’s a big part of it. The kid came. And he played two real good games. He did his job and we want to give him another look and he deserves it.
“Sammy went over there and played some games. [as part of a conditioning assignment]That was part of the plan and it worked well. Sammy is back and he’s going to be back with our team.
Blais and Vitali Kravtsov skated as extras on the third and fourth lines, respectively, on Sunday, indicating they could be trade bait. While it’s unlikely the Rangers will risk losing Kravtsov without anything on the waiver wire, Blais could still be hit on waivers at some point down the road to the Wolfpack.
If the Rangers want to maximize their options before the trade deadline, the club will have to do something – possibly adding either of those two, or defenseman Leiber Hajjic.
President and general manager Chris Drury may be more concerned about team stability ahead of the Rangers’ final 33 games of the regular season, which feature tough competition and eight sets of back-to-back games each week. A depth safety net may be preferable.
Or, maybe Dre doesn’t plan on swinging for the fences with any trade deadline acquisitions. If so, it would make sense to work to prepare against unexpected injuries rather than creating the most cap space. It’s possible Dre is comfortable with the group he already has in place and plans to target cheap acquisitions.
If the Rangers stick with this current roster, they will have about $5.439 million in cap space at the deadline. Bliss’ calculation is about $8,243 per day, while Cuylle’s is about $4,477.50 per day.
Either way, the Rangers’ next moves will say a lot about their thinking with 25 days until the trade deadline.
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