Note: Conor Allen May Make His Debut Tonight

Conor Allen

12:45PM Allen will play tonight. (Rangers)

8:30AMAfter being called up after Friday’s loss to the Capitals, Conor Allen practiced yesterday and may play tonight if Anton Stralman can’t go.

Allen has spent his first pro season in Hartford with the Wolf Pack and Alain Vigneault said that he liked what he saw from Allen, especially hockey sense, during training camp. (NY Post)

Allen said that the first month of the year featured a “steep” learning curve but he has found a more comfortable play in the last month or so. (Daily News)

Allen says that he needs the most work and needs to focus the most in the defensive zone and that Jeff Beukeboom has been a big help. (Daily News)

Ken Gernander likes Allen’s ability to move the puck, his decision making and Allen has recently stepped into a bigger role and assumed more minutes. (Daily News)

Recap: Alain Vigneault’s Comments Today

Alain Vigneault met with the media today after the Rangers practiced, via Carp from Rangers Report:

  • On seeing Derek Stepan, “it was my first time seeing him in a practice, I thought he looked real good. I expected it. He wasn’t in Banff and he wasn’t on the trip so I thought he would be fresher than the other guys after 4 games in five nights. I expected him to be fresher and for a first practice with his teammates he looked sharp.”
  • On Chris Kreider, Jeser Fast and JT Miller “I thought Chris had a good camp but at the end of the day and made the assessments on who should start here and with what role, we came to the conclusion that he needs to play. As much as I believe he is real close and can play in the NHL, he needs to play big minutes and good minutes and I felt that with this group I wouldn’t be able to give him those minutes. That being said, we had some decisions to make and when I looked at Fast, I liked his hockey smart and skill level. Being a right-hander and Ryan not being here at the start I thought it was a good fit. Miller just got better as camp went on. He did good things offensively, he has work to do, but he has a foot in the door and we will see how he does in the battle to stay in the top 12 forwards.”

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Read: Looking At The Final Defense Spot

Alain VigneaultWith the Rangers cuts today, the team has nine defensemen remaining and two fighting for the potential eighth defense spot.

Anton Stralman, Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, John Moore, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi are the top six while Justin Falk appears to be the seventh defenseman.

Stu Bickel and Conor Allen are the two players battling for the eighth spot.

  • Bickel has played:
    • 17:46, minus 1, 9 PIM, 3 shots blocked, 3 hits, 1 giveaway against the Flames
    • 20:35 with 1 shot that missed the net, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot against Devils.
  • Allen has played:
    • 20:36 with 2 shots, 1 blocked, 1 that missed the net, 2 hits and a takeaway against Edmonton
    • 20:27 with an assist, 1 shot blocked, 2 that missed the net and one blocked shot against the Flyers.

Bickel is in the final year of a two-year deal and has a cap hit of $750,000.

Allen is a rookie, signed to a two-year deal, and has a cap hit of $1.775 million.

Adam Rotter: Allen costs over $1 million more against the salary cap than Bickel and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to keep him as the eighth defenseman when he could go to Hartford and play big minutes. At this point we know what Stu Bickel brings, shaky defense but a willingness to fight, while Allen is mostly unknown but has shown to be solid so far in the preseason. I think Bickel ends up holding the eighth spot for the first month of the year, especially because he has some experience playing forward. It isn’t always pretty when he plays forward, but with the Rangers in a cap crunch it always helps to have versatile guys.

Buzz: The Rangers Are In The Mix For College Free Agent Conor Allen

2:24PM: Western College Hockey Blog, via BTB, says that Allen will sign with the Rangers and be assigned to the Whale.

That would put the Rangers at 50 contracts.

11:09AM: Zipay notes on Blue Notes that the Rangers and Predators are the top two contenders for Allen.

11:06AM: According to Steve Zipay, the Rangers are in the mix for college free agent Conor Allen of UMass.

Zipay said that Allen is reportedly close to making a decision.

Allen, a junior, is 6-1, 203lbs and from Chicago. In 99 games at UMass he has 14 goals and 25 assists with 94 blocked shots.

Fear the Triangle, a UMass blog, said that Allen was one of the best players on UMass this season and one of the best defensemen in the conference.

He doubled his blocked shots from his sophomore year to his junior year and is said to be the best defensive player on UMass.

Allen was named Hockey East player of the week in November of 2011. He is a left handed shot.

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