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NYRTC Day 3 Notebook: Leadership, Pavelec and Lineup for Islanders

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Leadership has been a talking point during the first three days of Rangers training camp.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has stated numerous times he expects young veterans like Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes to take on more responsibility in the wake of a busy summer in terms of personnel moves.

Captain Ryan McDonagh said he's not expecting a challenge with the new personnel, but rather hoping his work ethic over the years had an impact on those looking to take that next step in the room and on the ice.

"I feel very comfortable [as captain] and we've got a lot of guys in this room here that are going to expand themselves, and I feel very confident that these guys - the Hayeses, the Kreiders, Millers, Brady Skjei - these guys have hopefully watched me over their past couple seasons and one season, just learn how hard you have to work and how prepared you have to be, where your focus needs to be at all times," McDonagh said on Sunday.

While maybe not one of the young guys, Brendan Smith is certain to take on a larger role inside the Rangers' locker room. 

After arriving in New York at last year's trade deadline and signing an extension with the Rangers this offseason, Smith said on Sunday that he expects himself to viewed as a leader entering his first full season with the club.

"I think I can step into that role," Smith said. "I think we have a good leadership group. [Marc Staal] is great, [Rick Nash], I think Mac is one of the best captains in the League. For sure everybody can be a leader. Guys know that I'm a vocal guy. I've got their back and I'm there for them, so I can definitely help in that area." 

In his short time in the Big Apple, Smith has already established himself as someone the coaching staff and the players lean on.

"He's vocal, he's intense," Vigneault said. "Our room, that's a good thing to have in the room. He's not only vocal, but he shares a lot of his inner feelings with his teammates, which is good. It's about keeping everybody accountable, and I like that aspect of him. I like that energy that he brings."

While he's entering his first camp with New York, Smith said the time he spent last season following the trade that sent him east from Detroit makes things a bit easier than if he was arriving in a new city.

"It helps me a lot, especially when we're talking about like systems play," Smith said. "I find that's one of the hardest areas to grasp. When you come in at deadline, you're jumping right into the mix and things are different. Having that under my belt, getting used to it - I thought as the games went on I got better. Now coming in, I know what to expect and I think that's a huge area where I think I can improve."

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Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec summed up why he chose to sign with the Rangers this offseason in three words.

"It's the Rangers," Pavelec said with a smile. "There's a lot of history behind [the franchise]."

There certainly were other reasons, including working under renowned goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, playing under Henrik Lundqvist, as well as a new start after 10 seasons with Atlanta/Winnipeg. 

But the appeal of joining a successful team like the Rangers trumped other opportunities out there for the 30-year-old.

 "Great, great group of guys," Pavelec said. "We just started two days ago, three days ago. It's a little bit early, but I think we've got talent. We've got great veterans that are helping the team win games. We've got some young guys. I'm really excited to get going."

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The Rangers' projected lines for Monday's preseason opener against the Islanders based off Sunday's practice.

Paul Carey - J.T. Miller - Rick Nash
Michael Grabner - Lias Andersson - Pavel Buchnevich
Cole Schneider - Andrew Desjardins - Gabriel Fontaine
Bobby Farnham - Cristoval Nieves - Vinni Lettieri

Ryan McDonagh - Neal Pionk
Nick Holden - Anthony DeAngelo
Ryan Graves - Steven Kampfer

Ondrej Pavelec
Brandon Halverson

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