Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rangers Training Camp 2013 - Clean Slate...Grab It

"Clean Slate...Grab It." That was the slogan on t-shirts that new Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault handed out to his players when they arrived for training camp yesterday. It makes sense - everybody is being given a clean slate with the team under new leadership, and it's up to them to take the opportunity and run (skate?) with it. That slogan seems like a perfect summary for Brad Richards' situation, who will be heading into the most crucial career of his Rangers career thus far. Richards spoke today about how he's looking to put last year behind him and he still believes he can return to the form he displayed two years ago. Here's to hoping that he's right.

Some notes from the first two days of training camp:

- Here is the full training camp roster thus far, courtesy of Andrew Gross:

Goalies - Marty Biron, Johan Hedberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Jeff Malcolm, Jason Missiaen, Mackenzie Skapski, Scott Stajcer, Cam Talbot

Defensemen - Conor Allen, Stu Bickel, Michael Del Zotto, Charlie Dodero, Troy Donnay, Justin Falk, Ben Fanelli, Dan Girardi, Ryan Graves, Tommy Hughes, Aaron Johnson, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, John Moore, Brendon Nash, Samuel Noreau, Jimmy Oligny, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, Danny Syvret.

Forwards - Aaron Asham, J.T. Barnett, Ryan Bourque, Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Taylor Burke, Ryan Callahan, Derek Dorsett, Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Josh Graves, Carl Hagelin, Micheal Haley, Marek Hrivik, Kyle Jean, Michael Kantor, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Mashinter, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Josh Nicholls, Benoit Pouilot, Shawn O’Donnell, Darroll Powe, Taylor Pyatt, Brad Richards, Thomas Spelling, Michael St. Croix, Derek Stepan, Dyson Stevenson, Peter Trainor, Jason Wilson, Klarc Wilson, Andrew Yogan, Mats Zuccarello

- Derek Stepan has missed the first two days of camp so far. Stepan is still not under contract as he and Glen Sather continue to try and hammer out a new deal for the restricted free agent. Sather said today that there's nothing new to report on the negotiations, and Sather reportedly has no intentions of budging on whatever the current offer is that he has extended to Stepan's camp. Rumors are that Sather only wants to do a two-year deal while Stepan is looking for a long-term deal similar to the six-year extension Ryan McDonagh got earlier this offseason. Stepan and his agent really have no leverage here, but I understand why Stepan is trying to hold out for a long-term deal given that he's coming off the best season of his career. He'll be in camp soon enough, and he definitely needs to be in order to learn the ins and outs of playing in a new system under Alain Vigneault.

- Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, who are both recovering from shoulder surgery, will obviously be limited in camp considering the fact that they may not be ready for the start of the regular season.

- Marty Biron has also missed the first two days of camp for personal/family reasons, which have not specifically been identified. Vigneault did say that he spoke to Biron on the phone today and the plan is for Biron to be in camp tomorrow, which is great news.

- Veteran goaltender Johan Hedberg is in camp with the Rangers under a professional tryout (PTO). Hedberg, 40 years old, was bought out by the Devils over the offseason after they acquired Cory Schneider from the Canucks. Hedberg stated that he was promised nothing from the Rangers as far as a roster spot is concerned and he's basically here just to keep working out and getting reps at the moment. For Hedberg, this is basically an audition in hopes that another team will see something they like in his game and give him a contract. Tons of teams will hand out PTOs during training camp over the next few weeks. I wouldn't mind having Hedberg playing in Hartford as an insurance policy to start the season, but I have a hard time believing that he has any interest in continuing his career playing in the minors. It seems like it's boom or bust for him right now.

- There is no update on Henrik Lundqvist's contract situation with the Rangers. The offseason has been pretty quiet concerning any talks that have been going on between the Rangers and Lundqvist, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following this season. I have full confidence that they'll get a deal done, obviously, but it might take some time and not happen until the middle of the season. Lundqvist will not reach free agency.

- Alain Vigneault said he purposely didn't watch any footage of the Rangers' games last year. He had assistant coaches Scott Arniel watch footage of the Rangers' power play and Ulf Samuelsson the penalty kill, but beyond that Vigneault said he truly believes in forgetting about everything that happened last year and moving on. Whatever problems players had is in the past, and it seems like AV truly believes in this whole "clean slate" slogan. I actually really like it. There's no sense in looking over ways for the team to improve on last year when you consider the fact that they're going to be running a system that's the complete opposite of John Tortorella's.

More to come over the next few days as more news breaks from camp.