Sammy Blais, there suffered an upper body injury Saturday during the Rangers’ final preseason game, against the Islanders, did not participate in practice Monday and is questionable to play in the season opener against the Lightning on Tuesday night.
It is a tough break for the 26-year-old winger, who appeared in just 14 games last season for Rangers before suffering an ACL tear that sidelined him for the majority of the fixture. Rangers might want to put Blais on injured reservewhich would keep him out of the lineup for the first four games.
“He is day-to-day behind [the opener],” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said Monday after practice at the MSG Training Center. “It’s not that serious.”
The Rangers may be down at forward, but their defensive core is ready to go after a few minor injuries through the six exhibition games. Defensemen Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba rejoined the Rangers for practice after dealing with a lower-body injury and an upper-body injury, respectively. There was never any doubt that the two would be ready for the first game of the season, but their presence at training confirmed that they should be good to go.
Lindgren lined up in his usual spot next to Adam Fox, while Trouba skated with his usual partner, K’Andre Miller. Zac Jones looks set to get the first look in the sixth defenseman role third pair next to Braden Schneiderwho he skated with during the last few days of the preseason.
Without Blais, who spent time on the first and fourth lines this preseason, the Rangers’ next man up will likely be Jimmy Vesey. After dealing with his professional sample for a one-year, $750,000 deal, Vesey skated as part of a four-man unit — with Dryden Hunt, Ryan Carpenter and Ryan Reaves — on the fourth line at practice Monday. One of those four, presumably either Hunt or Reaves, must be scratched for opening night.
While the top unit is expected to be Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko, the third line is expected to feature Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow. Chytil and Lafreniere have also practiced on the second power-play unit with Trouba, Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, who were back on the right wing of the second line alongside Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck on Monday.
Defenseman Matt Bartkowski was released from his professional tryout contract.
Defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who appeared in just seven games for the Rangers last season, was waived and claimed by the Blackhawks on Monday. Winger Julien Gauthier cleared and was assigned to AHL Hartford.