Stepan May Crack Rangers’ Roster

The Rangers announced that they have cut four more names from the roster on Sunday. Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko, Dale Weise and Mats Zuccarello were assigned to Hartford.

The following are the remaining players on the roster:

Goalies: Martin Biron, Henrik Lundqvist

Defense: Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, Mike Sauer, Marc Staal

Forward: Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, Derek Boogaard, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Alex Frolov, Marian Gaborik, Tim Kennedy, Vinny Prospal, Brandon Prust, Derek Stepan, Todd White

Among those names remaining on the roster that are still vying for a spot with the club are Sauer, Fedotenko and Stepan. Both Fedotenko and Stepan ended the preseason leading the Rangers in points. Fedotenko topped the list with seven points (1-6-7), followed by Stepan with five points (3-2-5) in five appearances.

“He’s a solid guy offensively and defensively, and he’s a guy as a coach you look down the bench and know you can trust him in any situation,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said of Fedotenko.

One of the major compliments to both Fedotenko and Stepan has been Avery. He has helped the two forwards look like big stars out on the ice. As a unit, they have proven that they are just as much a qualitative line as the first line. Both players have been shuffled around on various lines, in an attempt to see if they can prove that they are able to fit into whatever role is given to them.

Stepan was the first to score on against Senators goalie Brian Elliott in the shootout on Friday night. He also tallied one of the four regulation goals with Fedotenko getting the assist.

As the next round of cuts are making its way to the season opener, it’s hard to dismiss two solid forwards that work so well together on the ice. Stepan and Fedotenko have both proven that they are worthy of their spots on the Rangers roster.

Stepan looks like an NHL natural. Many expect him to make the roster. It’s not so bad for a kid that took a chance by deciding to forego his last two years of college to tryout for a spot on the New York Rangers.

Luck may be on his side though, as it was announced on Friday night after the preseason shootout win over the Senators (5-4), Vinny Prospal will be out of the lineup a few more weeks after experiencing swelling in his knee. Captain Chris Drury is also out with a broken finger. Both players are expected to enter the season on the injured reserve list.

These two injuries leave room available for two spots on opening night in Buffalo on Saturday, October 9th. The likelihood of both Stepan and Fedotenko both making the team are pretty high at this point as both have proven their worth in camp.

A big surprise on Friday night that no one was expecting is that Derek Boogaard brought an end to his 222-game scoring drought with a goal at 6:31 in the third period. He has not scored a goal since his rookie year in 2005-06.

The Rangers open the season in Buffalo on Saturday. They will host their first regular season home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, October 15.

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