Head coach Alain Vigneault believes players must be versatile to have success in today's NHL.
"Versatility - I've said this many times - being able to play more than one position in the NHL is a big bonus. I'd have to say it's a must," he said on Wednesday at training camp.
Enter David Desharnais, who signed with the Blueshirts as a free agent in July. The 31-year-old spent last season split between Montreal and Edmonton and is the type of pivot Vigneault covets as he's a center who can play throughout the lineup in different situations.
"I'm going to do whatever I'm asked to," Desharnais told reporters before his first exhibition game with the Rangers. "But of course I play on the first, second, third, fourth line. I can play wherever. Obviously you need to earn those spots with your play, but it's something I can do for sure."
The summer was filled new experiences for Desharnais, including signing with a new team as a free agent for the first time in his career. That, coupled with the birth of his first child two months ago has made it an offseason he won't soon forget.
His decision to sign with the Rangers is based on past experiences and future expectations.
"They're always competing for a Stanley Cup," he said. "They're always a contender. They have a good core of guys, good goaltending. That can easily win you a Stanley Cup."
Vigneault has only had the chance to see Desharnais in camp thus far, but he too is looking at Desharnais' past success as a barometer of what could be coming this season.
"He's trying to learn the system, he's trying to understand those subtle little differences that we might have from where he's played before," Vigneault said. "A couple years ago, he was a guy that was a 50-point player. He sees our middle, he sees the opportunity he has. I think he's excited about that and tonight he'll give his first chance to play an exhibition game."
Filip Chytil will get his first taste of preseason action tonight when he dresses against the New Jersey Devils. Here is tonight's projected lineup.
Chris Kreider - Filip Chytil - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Ryan Gropp
Matt Puempel - David Desharnais - Daniel Catenacci
Andrew Desjardins - Lias Andersson - Adam Tambellini
Brady Skjei - Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc Staal - John Gilmour
Vince Pedrie - Brendan Smith