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Preseason Game Preview #5: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers

The Devils roll into MSG tonight for their second-to-last preseason game.

NHL: Preseason-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
More Mercer tonight? Let’s see it.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils at the New York Rangers. SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG, MSG+

A Game of Cuts?

The New York Rangers only have 26 players left in their training camp roster. Most of these guys will likely comprise their main roster during the season. On the other hand, the New Jersey Devils have 39 players still listed on their roster, which for some reason does not list Vesey or Jankowksi. Among those that may be cut after this game include Joseph Gambardella, Chase De Leo, Mason Geertsen - who should all be bound for low minutes in Utica if they stay in the organization. They may be followed by prospects such as Jesper Boqvist, Nolan Foote, Aarne Talvitie, Fabian Zetterlund, Kevin Bahl, Nikita Okhotiuk, Reilly Walsh, Akira Schmid, and Nico Daws. Considering this is roughly all the practice information we got yesterday:

This may mean that the Devils plan on giving the fringe guys all one last game before they make the big cuts. Or it may mean that they’re only up for practice. The only players among those I listed as potential cuts who played last game are Bahl, Geertsen, and Boqvist. Chirstian Jaros and Colton White also played that game, but I consider them more likely to make the team. Jankowksi and Vesey are also battling for spots, and I would think the Devils want to answer their questions about who should stay with the team in tonight’s game.

I don’t, however, see a reason to play anyone like Geertsen, Gambardella, or De Leo again. They should already be in Utica. But I guess we will get our answers at 9:00 AM, since we couldn’t get any answers from practice yesterday.

The Devils will have to deal with the core of the Rangers’ roster tonight. Jack Hughes, Damon Severson, and Ty Smith are all unavailable. This probably means that we should see another game of Pavel Zacha, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt on the top line. Bratt in particular is in need of another preseason game (we don’t want him ice cold to start this season, like last one). Beyond that? Mackenzie Blackwood took a maintenance day yesterday, so they may further ease him back in by playing him tomorrow instead of tonight. This may be another good chance for Schmid, Daws, or Wedgewood to get some minutes to settle the third goaltender battle.

As for the prospects Devils fans love, I think this might be Alex Holtz’s last game with the team in the preseason if he does not have a good game tonight. His line with Mercer and Tatar last game against Washington was only decent against lesser competition, and I imagine the team would be hesitant to play him in third line minutes. Since Zacha is obviously most proficient with Hischier, I think this makes it tough for Holtz to make the team. But we will see - it remains possible to have Tomas Tatar and Janne Kuokkanen line up with Mercer on a third line if Tatar is not on Hughes’ line.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? Who do you want to see in the lineup? How do you think the depth defensemen battles will shake out? Do you think Colton White is bound for Utica after last game, or will he restore his chances with tonight’s game? What do you make of the forward depth battles? How do you think they’ll fare against the real NHL Rangers tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.