With the preseason in the rearview mirror, the Rangers on Thursday trimmed their training camp roster by seven, bringing the number down to 25 a week before the regular season begins.
Among those remaining is young Filip Chytil, who impressed the coaching staff and management with his dynamic skill and quick adjustment to the NHL style.
"I tried to just play my game the whole game and every practice … I tried to have the best game, score some goals and play the system the coaches want for me," the 2017 first round pick said. "I'm really glad I'm here and it's really exciting."
Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said like everyone who survived the cuts, the 18-year-old earned his spot on the roster through his strong play. With that said, Gorton said the evaluation process of Chytil is ongoing.
Gorton said he and his staff want Chytil to "have a positive effect on our game, on his game and on his wingers. We'll just evaluate him day to day. He knows that. We've had a conversation with him and explained it to him. As long as he's playing well [he'll remain with the team]."
The Rangers can give Chytil nine games in the NHL before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in.
Lias Andersson, meanwhile, was loaned to Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. Gorton said a young player like Andersson must play in all situations and that was something he would not do right now in New York.
"I think it's a decision we made as we looked at the roster and where he fit in on the roster right now, he needs to go play," Gorton said. Andersson needs to "play in a top-six [role] on his club team. Go back to Frolunda and play power play, play the penalty kill and right now we just didn't see that happening here. For an 18-year-old player, we want them playing."
The other forward to secure his spot was Paul Carey, who both Gorton and head coach Alain Vigneault said turned in strong performances over the final few preseason games.
"In the last six or seven days, I thought he played extremely well," Vigneault said. "His speed allowed him to get separation from checkers, get in there on the forecheck. He was physical when he needed to be. He was effective on the penalty kill."
Carey, who signed with the Rangers this summer as a free agent, said he came to New York for the opportunity and was pleased in himself for separating himself from the pack of forward vying for the spot.
"I put a lot of work in back home and I think the coaches like my speed and the energy I can bring to the game," he said. "Also, I play a 200-foot game and make some plays out there."
Forward Matt Puempel was placed on waivers and Gorton said if he was to clear, he'd be optioned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League.
The remaining cuts were to forwards Boo Nieves, Vinni Lettieri and Gabriel Fontaine, as well as defensemen Neal Pionk and Ryan Graves. While all fell short, Gorton praised the showings off all the first-year players who will begin the season in Hartford.
"We always talk about that. It's something we need," Gorton said. "Every organization needs that. It's a faster game, you need young players coming in all the time pushing your veteran guys. I think we had that in our camp. I think a lot of guys were close and they could be here. In certain situations, we need guys playing and getting better."
Vigneault after practice revealed that defenseman Nick Holden had been suffering a similar illness that hampered Mika Zibanejad at the start of training camp.
"Nick hadn't been around our camp for three days," Vigneault stated. "He was bitten by the same bug as Mika. He was down and out. Today was his first time in three days that he was back around the team."
Thursday's line combinations from practice.
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Rick Nash - Filip Chytil - Pavel Buchnevich
Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - Paul Carey
Jesper Fast (non-contact)
Andrew Desjardins (PTO)
Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Brendan Smith
Marc Staal - Anthony DeAngelo
Nick Holden - Steven Kampfer