Treff: Rangers Training Camp Observations

The New York Rangers opened their training camp last Thursday with a day of medicals for the 56 attendees. After Friday’s on-ice testing, 54 of players were divided into three groups for two days of (often intense) drills. Sean Day and Yegor Rykov were held out of practices for medical reasons—Rykov was (not seriously) injured during the Traverse City tournament and Day is still recovering from off-season surgery. Late this morning, there will be an intra-squad scrimmage in advance of tomorrow night’s first pre-season game, stay tuned here (I have made a promise that we will have short, on point, pieces this year).

Some observations about the two days of practice:

  1. About the lines: Of particular interest were the top lines in groups A and B. In group A, Artemi Panarin skated alongside Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. This group had good chemistry to start the practices on Saturday and it just kept getting better. Expected to begin the pre-season as New York’s top line, they looked like they had been playing together for a long time. Although it is uncertain whether Buchnevich is a good fit long term on the right side of this line, he and Panarin have a natural affinity. As for group B’s top line of Chris Kreider, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko—it was the most surprising of camp so far. Kreider and Chytil have a playful relationship and their affinity carries out on the ice. They push each other hard to perform. Add Kakko, with his incredible skill and this line is a potent one. If Chytil has worked on his face offs (which kept him from being in the middle consistently last season), this could be a very high producing NHL second line.
  2. Thoughts about some of the individual players:
  3. All six of the goalies got pounded over the last two days. Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev are expected to start in New York and Igor Shesterkin in Hartford (which opens their training camp later this week); expect Adam Huska to spend time in Hartford too. With all the hype about Shesterkin, Huska is not getting much attention, but don’t ignore him; he is an excellent netminder, with NHL potential.
  4. On D, Jacob Trouba is big and strong; he is an excellent puck mover and has been very aggressive along the boards. It’s been quite a while since the Rangers had this kind of player on the blueline, and the difference should be apparent immediately. Its most immediate effect is that Brady Skjei can go back to what he does best—play an effective defensive game and use his very big shot. Among the competitors for D spots, Libor Hajek has made some excellent plays, as has Ryan Lindgren–both are competing on the left side. But now add Tarmo Reunanen to these competitors–although a long shot right now to make the team, he has been impressive with a very good shot and his ability to move the puck. Adam Fox will definitely get a shot at the big team too (on the right side), but so far, I have seen nothing that stands out (probably at least in part because he is in group C).
  5. Up front, Kreider acts as one of the leaders of the team, encouraging, keeping it light. He and Chytil have great chemistry. Chytil looks like a completely different player—there is growth both in confidence and body. Now add Panarin and Kakko to this picture and you have the makings of a contending team. Both of these players have amazing releases on their shot and incredible vision. Kakko displayed some puckhandling over the last two days that will bring the Garden fans out of their seats. Vitali Kravtsov (who, like Fox, is in group C) has shown a bit less, but it is clear that he has top notch skills (e.g., excellent speed and great hands. Lias Andersson looks to have improved his skating and  is more effective along the boards. We haven’t seen his offensive skills yet, but there is definitely a difference in how he has played in practice.


About the Author

Leslie Treff

Leslie Treff is a contributor for NY Sports Day, covering NY NHL teams. She has been covering the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils for more than 15 seasons. Leslie is a recognized expert in hockey prospects and has served as a scout for several independent agencies. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, in her former life, Leslie was an attorney in the judiciary in New York City.

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