Marcel Hossa

Training Camp – Left Wing

As with many of the other positions on the Rangers roster this year, the left wing presents Head Coach Tom Renney with a variety of options. There’s no doubt that the prize is of course playing alongside Jaromir Jagr on the top line.

Over the past two seasons, Martin Straka has been a mainstay alongside Jagr and Michael Nylander. With Nylander now gone from the picture there is perhaps more motivation for Tom Renney to look at what other options he might have to reconfigure the top line.

Enter Marcel Hossa.

Last season the Rangers experimented with the enigmatic Slovak on the top line and got some interesting results. In a 14 game stint, Hossa recorded 8 of his 10 goals on the season, largely playing on the Rangers’ top line. The experiment was cut short by a knee injury, but Hossa returned to the team in the playoffs picking up another 2 goals in fourteen games.

It terms of sheer offense, there’s no doubt that Straka has the upperhand, but the opportunity to provide another scoring option as well as strengthen the offensive potential of the third line is certainly appealing.

Outside of Hossa the Rangers could well revisit Petr Prucha, though Jagr has been quoted as saying they play different styles, and previous experiments have generally ended after just one or two periods of play. Nigel Dawes might also get a look, but would have to have an impressive camp to unseat one of the veterans in his way and may have a better shot at winning a spot on the third line.

Sean Avery was used on occasion last year with Jagr, but with the way camp is shaping up it looks instead as if he’ll play on the second line with Brendan Shanahan and Chris Drury. Avery also might be considered for the third line center spot, which would open up competition for the second line also…but betting money is now probably on Avery returning to play with Shanahan.

The third line configuration is perhaps the most fluid at this stage. Not one of the three forward positions is clearly won at this stage, though Petr Prucha and Ryan Callahan will likely be chief amongst those considered. Prucha can play either wing, and Callahan may move to center allowing the team to potentially look at a variety of combinations here. One of the more intriguing combos coming out of camp was Callahan centering Prucha and Straka.

If Hossa fails to win the top line spot, he certainly could be considered here…as could rookie Nigel Dawes.

On the fourth line, both Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr are likely to play 4th line left wing at some stage during the season. Whether the team decides to platoon them or not remains to be seen, but the position could also see more competition to accommodate one of the other left wings.

Down in Hartford Brodie Dupont looks set to kick off his pro career, joining up with second year pro Lauri KorpikoskiMitch Fritz, acquired from Tampa in exchange for Bryce Lampman will likely round out the AHL roster.

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