The Rangers close out the 2016 preseason tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden with several lineup decision still to made for the start of the regular season.
New York cut nine players Wednesday and terminated the professional tryout with Maxim Lapierre, leaving 29 players still in camp, or six more than can fit on an NHL roster.
With that said, the roster is coming into focus following Wednesday's cuts, which included forwards Marek Hrivik, Nicklas Jensen and Robin Kovacs, as well as defensemen Mat Bodie, Ryan Graves and Chris Summers. The Rangers have 18 forwards to go along with eight defensemen and three goaltenders.
"We've got one more game here to finalize roster decisions," head coach Alain Vigneault said after Tuesday's loss to the Islanders. "Originally, I had planned to go closer to my [regular season] lineup than what I'm envisioning now. We still have a couple of decisions to make. Some players are going to get another opportunity here to show us what they have and hopefully some of them will grab it."
Vigneault in the past has said that he prefers eight forwards, but has stated that can only happen if the money is there. If the cap space works, are these the eight defensemen that will be on the roster a week from today when the season begins against the Islanders?
With that said, Vigneault stated Tuesday that there are battles to be had on defense. Both Marc Staal and Kevin Klein, two veterans, both played last night and could be the two scratches on defense if Vigneault wants another chance to evaluate those who could be on the bubble.
Thursday's roster has not been announced - outside of Henrik Lundqvist playing all 60 minutes. At the start of camp, Vigneault said he hoped to use Thursday's game as a true warmup to the regular season by testing line combinations. But with decisions still to be made in regards to what his roster will look like, that won't be the cacse.
Vigneault did rule out forward Mats Zuccarello for tonight's game, and with Gabriel Fontaine, Oscar Lindberg, Josh Jooris and Cristoval Nieves all recovering from injuries, that trims that 18 number down to about 13 available forwards for tonight's game.