The Rangers may enter the season as prohibitive Stanley Cup favorites, but at yesterday’s first day of training camp they were busy getting acquainted with a set of “new guys.”
“New kids, new kid in the corner,” a grinning Derek Stepan said as he nodded across the dressing room toward the stalls of Jeff Halpern, Rick Nash and Taylor Pyatt. “It’s good. All three of them, they fit in pretty well.”
Following a season in which the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1996-97, general manager Glen Sather bolstered the team by acquiring Nash from Columbus in a blockbuster trade, while signing Halpern, Pyatt and Arron Asham as free agents.
“They’re going to add a lot to this team in a lot of key areas. The organization did a great job in filling [holes],” Stepan said. “The big kid on the block [Nash], he brings so much to the table.”
Even though the trio of Asham, Halpern and Pyatt will play vital roles, Nash was the centerpiece.
Nash wowed his teammates and onlookers at the first day of camp, most notably when he beat Henrik Lundqvist in a one-on-one drill with a wrist shot over the reigning Vezina Trophy winner’s glove.
“I know how good of a player he can be so we’re really excited just to have him in our lineup and add a little something extra,” Dan Girardi said. “I’d rather play against him in a scrimmage any day than in a game.”
The addition of Nash cost the Rangers Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon, along with a first-round selection in this June’s draft, a fact head coach John Tortorella noted when he met with reporters.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Tortorella said. “We gave up some pretty good people to get him. We wish those people the best but we’ve very happy he’s with the New York Ranger organization.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.