Looking to make the leap: Oscar Lindberg

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This season may be the last for Oscar Lindberg to make the leap and join the New York Rangers.

The 23-year-old center, who signed a two-year $1.3 million contract in July, needs to clear waivers, if New York wants to send him to the AHL.

Given Lindberg’s talent, he could be plucked off waivers prior to making his way back to Hartford.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Swede centered the Wolf Pack’s top line last season and finished second in team scoring with 28 goals and 56 points in 75 games. He added three goals and 13 assists in 15 Calder Cup playoff games.

Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander believes Lindberg can contribute at the NHL level.

“He’s very committed to becoming better on faceoffs. He’s had good success (in the AHL) with his percentages and things like that,” said Gernander.“Playing at the NHL level, I think his whole game will translate well. He has offensive upside, and what team wouldn’t want that?”

Originally a second round pick (57th overall) of the Arizona Coyotes in 2010, Lindberg has spent the past two seasons in the AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Rangers last season playing 8:18 in New York’s 1-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Feb. 24.

Prior to beginning his professional career in North America, Lindberg played with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.

In order to crack the Rangers’ lineup this season Lindberg will have to outplay the likes of Jarret Stoll and Dominic Moore – a tall order for a player columnist Larry Brooks says “doesn’t appear to have the checking game, face off prowess or penalty killing ability to replace” Moore.

It’s New York Rangers Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers earned their third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history with a 53-22-7 record last season.

New York then eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games of the first round and edged the Washington Capitals in seven games in the conference semifinals. However, Tampa Bay cut New York’s bid for a second straight Stanley Cup Final appearance short defeating the Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final.

Rick Nash led the way offensively for the Rangers scoring a career-high 42 goals and 69 points in 79 games. Center Derick Brassard also had a career year notching a personal best for goals (19) and points (60).

In what was his final NHL season, Martin St. Louis reached the 20-goal plateau for the 10th time in his career. The 40-year-old announced his retirement in July.

In goal, Henrik Lundqvist went 30-13-3 while posting a 2.25 G.A.A. and a .922 save percentage in 46 appearances. Despite missing 25 games due to a vascular injury, the 33-year-old finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting.

Cam Talbot took over in Lundqvist’s absence. The 28-year-old finished the season with a 21-9-4 record to go along with a 2.21 G.A.A. and a .926 save percentage.

Off-season recap

It was a busy off-season for the Rangers.

After 15 years as the general manager of the Rangers, Glen Sather stepped down in July and handed the duties to Jeff Gorton.

On the ice, the Rangers dealt Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers and filled his spot with Antti Raanta.

New York also acquired Emerson Etem from the Ducks for Carl Hagelin on the second day of the NHL Draft.

Earlier this month the Rangers added depth at center inking free agent Jarret Stoll to a one-year deal.

The Rangers also took care of their own.

Restricted free agents J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast got new deals and Derek Stepan avoided arbitration signing a new six-year $39 million contract.

James Sheppard, who scored two goals and registered nine penalty minutes in 14 games after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks, remains unsigned.

Several Rangers are still recovering from injuries suffered last season.

Brassard had wrist surgery in late June and was expected to require four-to-six weeks of recovery time. Captain Ryan McDonagh, who led all Rangers’ blue liners with 33 points in 71 games last season, is still recovering from a broken foot suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Mats Zuccarello has been cleared to resume skating and have contact after taking a shot to the head from McDonagh in Game 5 of the Rangers’ first round series against the Penguins.

Mackenzie Skapski is still recovering from off-season hip surgery.

Under Pressure: Dustin Byfuglien

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Despite his $5.2 million cap hit, Dustin Byfuglien heads into this season as the highest paid member of the Winnipeg Jets taking home $6 million in salary and could hit the open market next July.

According to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, Byfuglien is looking for a long-term deal of more than $7 million per season as an unrestricted free agent.

If the 30-year-old is going to command those kinds of numbers from the Jets, or anyone else for that matter, he’ll need to prove he’s worth it.

Winnipeg was shorthanded a league-leading 308 times last season and Byfuglien was the face of the problem leading the way with 124 penalty minutes – good for seventh most in the entire league. It’s not exactly a category you want one of your leaders, and highest paid players, leading.

As the Jets were battling for a playoff spot in April, Byfuglien was suspended four games for his cross check on Rangers’ forward J.T. Miller.

His questionable play continued in the playoffs when he hit Corey Perry from behind following a goal.

Byfuglien certainly gives Paul Maurice options as he’s capable of playing both on defense and up front, but has been a liability on the back end, which led his former coach Claude Noel to use him as a forward in 2014. Even Maurice thought he was better suited there leaving him as a forward to start last season.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound blue liner’s inconsistent play and contract status coupled with the young talent the Jets have on the blue line (Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey) could make him expendable.

Byfuglien is under pressure to prove he should be paid the money he’s looking for in his new deal.

Related: Looking to make the leap: Nikolaj Ehlers

Rangers say Zuccarello should be ready for training camp

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Even on the “hockey players are tough” scale, recovering from a skull fracture and brain contusion is pretty astonishing.

It sounds like New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello is pulling that off.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault told NHL.com on Friday that Zuccarello should be ready for training camp in September.

“I’ve heard he’s 100 percent from our medical staff,” Vigneault said. “He’s been cleared to skate and have contact. He’s made a full recovery so we’re very pleased about that. He’s a big part of our team.”

A Ryan McDonagh shot hit the 27-year-old in the head during Game 5 of the Rangers’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Here’s a video clip of that very unfortunate moment:

To little surprise, the small scorer didn’t return to the playoffs, although it appeared as though he gave it multiple tries.

That’s a courageous showing considering symptoms that included the following: loss of speech, brain bleeding and a three-day hospital stay.

Seriously, when you consider all he went through, let’s hope that he’s genuinely 100 percent before he returns to the ice. If so, it’s a truly remarkable recovery, even by hockey standards.

Rangers captain McDonagh (broken foot) feeling ‘100 percent’

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Looks like the broken foot Ryan McDonagh suffered during the Eastern Conference Final won’t affect him heading into next season.

“It’s safe to say it’s getting better every day and feeling pretty much 100 percent at this point now,” the Rangers captain told NHL.com. “We said June 1 was the starting date, so we’re more than two-and-a-half months in. I’m back skating on the ice, doing leg strength stuff in the weight room, running and jumping.

“I’m really trying to put it all behind me now and gear up here for the start of training camp.”

McDonagh broke the foot during Game 4 of the Lightning series but continued to play (though he did miss the start of Game 7, as trainers worked to get his foot feeling right in his skate.) Team doctors decided against surgery at the end of the year, opting instead for the walking-boot-and-crutches approach.

McDonagh got rid of the crutches and boot in July, and began skating on Aug. 1. Per NHL.com, his plan is to return to New York on Sept. 1 — he’s currently at his home in Minnesota — and spend some time prepping in the Big Apple prior to training camp.