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Rangers training camp updates: Hajek, Fourth line, Kravtsov and Panarin

September 25, 2022, 2:42 AM ET [1 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers start preseason play Mondsay against the islanders. In the past two days, the signs point to Libor Hajek possibly in the lead right now to fill the third-pair, left-handed d-man spot. Vitali Kravtsov shows an increased sense of maturity, boding well for success, while Artemi Panarin has taken the rookie under his wing while addressing his playoff "struggles." New York has their first roster cuts, getting down to 62 players in camp.

Gerard Gallant's comments Friday sure seemed to lean in the direction that it might be Hajek's job to lose. Nothing is set in stone and both Zac Jones and Matthew Robertson are still in the mix. But it certainly sounded as if Hajek will get a realistic chance at breaking camp opposite Braden Schneider.

Maybe Gallant is trying to pump up Hajek's value and confidence. It's also possible he is telling Jones and Robertson that nothing will be handed to either one of them and the role would have to be earned. I would say the team is still trying to show that they got some value back in the Ryan McDonagh/J.T. Miller deal. but that would be foolish. All this said, it certainly may be the case that Gallant feels more comfortable with the veteran blueliner and will give Hajek a chance to fill the spot.

“He looks more confident this year,” Gallant said. “Honestly, if you looked at stuff that you didn't like, you’d probably say, ‘He looked like he lacked a little bit of confidence at times.’ I don't see that this camp. He's come in here, and from day one, he looks strong. He looks good. He tested really well. So, everything's good. Everything's leading to this guy being a good player on our hockey team. And again, we'll see what happens when it all boils down to it, because there are some guy battling for that spot. But he's looked really good.”

Fourth line
Gallant in his Friday press conference gave some hints as to who likely is in the lead to play on the line. Vince Mercogliano covered this in Saturday's paper. I wouldn't say the names are surprising, but it's clear, past history with the coach will likely play a major factor as to who earns a spot and is in the lineup.

Barclay Goodrow is a lock, with newly signed forward Ryan Carpenter also in strong position because he can play center and kill penalties. He played for Gallant in Vegas, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this coach, it’s that he’s loyal to the guys who have earned his trust. Ryan Reaves certainly falls into that category, which is why he sounds like the favorite to fill out that line.

If Goodrow, Carpenter and Reaves begin as the fourth line, look for Dryden Hunt and Jimmy Vesey to vie for the 13th forward spot. (The Rangers are expected to carry 22 players to start the season for salary cap purposes, which would leave room for only one extra forward.) And while Hunt appeared in 76 games for the Rangers last season, it’s worth noting that Vesey is the only one of the two who has experience killing penalties.

Goodrow is a lock. I have no issues with Carpenter, but having him on the lineup means little offense will be generated. If Reaves gets the third spot, then for sure that trio will solely be a checking type unit, which blunts the impact of having Goodrow. I am not saying Hunt and/or Vesey would be any different. But Vesey at least can score a smidge and Hunt might generate a few chances. Hopefully if the fourth line stays as noted above, they will forecheck the hell out of the opponents, upping the physical quotient.

The following quotes show someone who finally may be getting it. Reading and listening to what Kravtsov said might be the most positive thing from camp so far. Kravtsov has a chance to fill a key spot on the squad, opposite Panarin and Vincent Trocheck. If he can stick in that spot, one concern, second line right wing, is removed, affording New York additional options on the first and third lines.

"I definitely made a lot of noise previously, so there's kind of this necessity to redeem myself," he said through a Russian translator. "It's more about putting in the work. It's not about what anybody says."

"I didn't want to answer those mean comments on the internet," he said. "My agent (Dan Milstein) and Chris Drury knew what was going on. The people who needed to be in the know were in the know. I didn't want to make it public. But at the same time, 85% of what was being said on the internet wasn't true."

"The guys respect me," he said. "I’m accepted. I know that everything really depends on what I do – on my work."


Loved reading this. Panarin working with Kravtsov to aid in his transition to the team and show that what happened last year is in the past and the focus is on the future is great to see. Of course, Panarin downplayed this, but getting Kravtsov up to speed quicker will help Panarin, that line and the team.

Panarin's shirt is awesome, hearkening back to his comments after Jacob Trouba was named captain.

I still think Panarin was playing through an injury in the playoffs. To date, nothing has been reported that this was the case. From his comments below, his issues in the playoffs were more mental than physical and of his own doing. Hopefully he learned a lesson and won't get in his own head again. From listening to him, see below, and seeing his reactions, he looks to have put last year's problems being him as camp opened.

Rangers trim roster:

To repeat some scheduling info. I am out of pocket tomorrow night to Tuesday night for Rosh Hashana. The following week, it's Tuesday late-afternoon to Wednesday evening. Then, the two subsequent weeks, I will be unavailable Sunday night to Tuesday night for the remainder of the Jewish holidays. This info will be posted at the bottom of almost every blog over the next weeks so that everyone remains in the loop.

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