It’s officially hockey season again, as teams around the NHL are tuning up for puck drop in a little under three weeks. The New York Rangers have played two preseason games thus far: a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils, and a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with another game on tap tonight against the Boston Bruins.
Through those two games, there have been a few players that have looked impressive, and some that need a little work. Here are players that have seen their stock rise, or fall.
Stock Up: Oscar Lindberg
The biggest question mark coming into training camp was Oscar Lindberg. He had been gradually improving in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack. So far, he is well on his way to a spot with the Rangers. He has two goals in as many games.
Lindberg’s first goal came against the Devils on a blast from the top of the faceoff circle to put New York up big in that one. His second goal came against the Flyers and was even prettier. On a rush, he got the puck streaking down the left side. Lindberg put on the jets, held the puck patiently, and waited for the right moment to fire it past the goaltender.
The patience and ability to score in different situations show that Lindberg is NHL-ready. It looks as if he’ll make a fine addition to the bottom six of this team. However, he’ll need to keep this production up throughout the rest of the preseason if he wants to really lock up the roster spot.
Stock Down: Magnus Hellberg
When the Rangers brought in Magnus Hellberg from the Nashville Predators this summer, he was pretty much guaranteed to start the season in the AHL. That’s still going to happen, but he will likely be the first man called up in case of a goaltender injury in New York. He has split time so far this preseason with expected backup Antti Raanta.
He hasn’t given up an absurd amount of goals, but some of the goals he has given up have been in particular circumstances.
Hellberg gave one up on a bad scramble for the puck in front of the net, but the rest of his goals allowed came on high-rising shots. Opposing shooters are exploiting the top of the net to score on Hellberg. Granted, those goals were also on man advantages, but covering the top of the net is still key.
If he wants to eventually crack an NHL roster, he’ll need to work on protecting the upper third of the net with his glove, and even with his blocker. Other than that, he has looked pretty solid.
Stock Down: Jarret Stoll
Stoll made his preseason debut with the Rangers on Tuesday against the Flyers, but he did not find the score sheet. Meanwhile, his linemates, Lindberg and Viktor Stalberg, both scored. Even though he’s not a scoring forward, he should at least be able to keep up with his high-octane linemates.
Stoll is back in the lineup for Thursday’s matchup against the Boston Bruins. He should look to step up his scoring and offense in that one. There’s a slim chance he does not make the roster, but with Lindberg strutting his stuff, the veteran Stoll should watch his back.
Stock Up: Viktor Stalberg
Perhaps the most under-the-radar signing of the offseason, Stalberg seems to be making a name for himself with the Rangers. He scored a nice goal against the Devils, and added an assist on a Mat Bodie goal against the Flyers. In addition to the numbers, he seems to be flying around the ice with the speed that he lost with the Predators.
The key for the Rangers this season is the ability to score with the third and fourth lines. Stalberg should be able to contribute on those lines, and help the team make it over the hump to a Stanley Cup.