President John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton met with the media today on the heels of training camp opening Sunday. No great revelations, though there appears to be hope/speculation that K'Andre Miller could break camp with the team while Mika Zibanejad, along with two others, will miss the start of camp with an undisclosed injury. The videos are below
Gorton on Miller making the roster
(thanks to NYRangersnews.com for the transcript)
“I think he has a great chance. We are all excited about what he has been showing, his commitment this offseason has been great, he has been here a long time training, working, skating. We are excited to see how he looks. It’s been pretty well publicized how he looked prior to us leaving for the bubble, for him to have the offseason he’s had and now come to a big league camp, albeit short, we are excited to see him with NHL players. He’s got a great chance and we are looking forward to seeing him.”
Ten days to make a decision like this with no pre-season games is not ideal. I would love it if Miller, the 22nd pick in 2018, who played at the University of Wisconsin, made the team, but my view is that he needs more minor-league seasoning to smooth out the rough edges, especially defensively. Regardless of how good he looked in the bubble, he hasn't played a real game in more than half a season and needs work in his own end. Originally, the hope and expectation was that Miller would make the taxi squad, especially since the AHL won't start until February 5. I would tamp the breaks a bit on Miler. If he dazzles in camp - continuing what he did in the bubble - then I could see him starting the season on the parent club. But I also firmly believe that Miller will end up in the AHL, though I hope to be proven wrong.
Gorton on Kravtsov staying in Russia
“he’s playing really well and we made a decision to commit to having him finishing the season over there and we watch just about every one of his games, every one of his shifts, talked a lot to the team over there and we just feel like he is trending in the right direction. Their season isn’t that much longer, the opportunity to play some playoff games and building on what he is doing and once it is over we will bring him over here and go from there. Really happy with where he is at and where he is going and excited to get him back over here when his season is done.”
To me, the key in that paragraph is the bolded, we will bring him over here. No wavering, no maybe, but we will. Kravtsov has played well in the KHL and would benefit from playoff games, if Traktor makes it. The KHL season ends Feb. 27 and Traktor is likely headed for the playoffs, which start March 2; the NHL season is set to end May 8. His current success should aid in his transition back to the US. Clearly, the question will be AHL or NHL, but if he is playing well, put him on the parent club and go from there.
Gorton on maybe moving LWs to RW:
"A lot of our wingers, we feel are versatile and can play both sides. I’ll leave it to David. It’s a luxury that we have some good wingers that are highly talented and can do things and play both sides. I don’t know if Panarin is going to switch sides, he is pretty comfortable and pretty effective over there, but the rest of the guys are pretty versatile.”
The mere fact that Gorton mentioned Panarin lends some credence to thought he might be the one to move. I would rather see Chris Kreider move, as I think Panarin is better suited to the left side, as seen on the power play when he shifted sides. Not making any changes and going with Panarin, Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere on the left side is a viable option.
Gorton on if anybody is unavailable to skate on the first day:
“they are all here, we have three players that will be unable to be on the ice on Monday, they are listed as day-to-day, it’s Mika Zibanejad, Justin Richards and Keith Kinkaid....“I think that right now we will just list them as day to day and hopefully none of it is long-term and we can get them back on the ice as soon as possible.””
We don't know if the absences are injury or COVID related. If the latter, hopefully, it's just clearing protocols and not related to an actual illness and they will be on the ice soon, especially Mika. Zib was skating and shooting on his own, as we saw from the Instagram videos, so if he doesn't miss too much time, his absence should have a major impact on his availability to be ready to start the season.
The Youth Movement is in full effect:
On a personal note, my hope is to get blogs up this week. Unfortunately, my wife was diagnosed late the past week with COVID, and my PCR test, taken Thursday, just came back positive. Will advise if unable to write. Stay safe out there, this is no joke.