Rangers trim roster, cut Hobbit Wizard

The Rangers trimmed their roster by 11 players Monday, leaving just a handful of cuts before finalizing the locker room for the start of the regular season Oct. 9 in Buffalo.

Among the cuts was prime prospect Evgeny Grachev, as well as small-but-shifty forward Mats Zuccarello. The latter cut makes me particularly sad, mostly because it denies me the opportunity of using “Norwegian Hobbit Wizard” in headlines this season.

A bigger theme of the cutdown is how it relates to the organization’s immediate future. For all of the talk about a youth movement on Broadway, it sure seems like the team plans to lean on its veterans this season, at least at forward. Impressive center Derek Stepan is the only rookie among the 16 remaining forwards. There's a little more youth on defense, with Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Pavel Valentenko sticking around on the blue line at least a little longer. D Matt Gilroy and F Artem Anisimov, both entering their second NHL seasons, also survived the cuts.

Training camp invitee Ruslan Fedotenko made the grade, but not all invitees were so lucky, as Garnet Exelby and Alexei Semenov packed their bags.

With the roster down to 27, the Rangers still need to cut at least four players, though if memory serves it’s been some time since a John Tortorella team carried a full roster of 23.

One final note: Also among yesterday’s cuts, the maligned Wade Redden will report to Hartford and keep his contract intact, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

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