The Kitchener Rangers are piling up players faster than Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse in the 100-metre dash (hey, the Pan Ams are on, gotta make a reference).
The club is already returning all 13 forwards from last season as well as newcomers Jake Henderson, Joseph Garreffa and Nick McHugh.
Add Toronto Maple Leafs second rounder draft pick Jeremy Bracco, who is considering a move away from Boston College to the Aud, and the likely signing of Rangers’ first round pick Greg Meireles and there just isn’t enough playing time to go around.
The back end isn’t as deep but, with recent signings, has eight players fighting for seven jobs. And there are three goalies in between the pipes.
These are good problems to have.
But it clearly points to future movement as the Rangers, who haven’t won a playoff round in two years, try to get back on track.
We’re talking trades. And maybe lots of them.
With that in mind, here are some areas of concern.
OVERAGE OPENING: It doesn’t sound like goalie Matt Greenfield will be back. His agent said they are evaluating his position and Rangers’ GM Murray Hiebert described his future as “up in the air.”
If Greenfield doesn’t return that opens up an overage slot as the team only has two other OAs on the roster — F Brandon Robinson and D Brian Brosnan.
The team is deep at forward and could use a veteran boost on defence. So, adding another OA blueliner may be in the offing. Windsor’s Trevor Murphy (24G, 39A) would be a nice fit. The Spits have 10 rearguards in the fold for the upcoming season so it’s crowded back there.
GOALTENDING DEPTH: At some point the Rangers are going to need to sign another goalie. The team had prospect Izzy Benigno with the Kitchener Dutchmen last year but he has been plagued with concussion issues.
The team needs a third option for the future but also as a safeguard in case Luke Opilka or Dawson Carty goes down with an injury.
Prospect Jack LaFontaine has yet to commit to the Rangers but would be the ideal choice. Luke Richardson, picked in this year’s OHL draft, is another consideration.
BLUELINER WANTED: The Rangers are hoping St. Louis Blues draft pick Dmitrii Sergeev can be their go-to puck moving defenceman this season. The Russian import has shown flashes of being that guy but a proven offensive-minded d-man has to be at the top of their shopping list.
To get one, the team will need to part with high draft picks and players. Luckily, the Rangers are flush in both departments.
Again, a guy like Murphy may solve two problems, adding OA and defensive depth.
Two others that will be coveted and perhaps available depending on how their respective teams fare — but that will cost a lot — are Oshawa’s Mitch Vande Sompel and Mississauga’s Sean Day.
PRIORITY PLAYERS: Why the log jam up front you ask? Well, some young players just have to get minutes. Mascherin was the second overall draft pick last year and just can’t be buried. Same goes for Gustaf Franzen, a fourth overall selection in the CHL import draft. The Rangers can’t afford for those rare high picks to fail.
At the same time, you have players such as Connor Bunnaman and Mason Kohn among others earning the right to more minutes and veterans that are better than third or fourth line status being pushed back.
TRADE BAIT: So, who goes? There are untouchables. Unless the team is absolutely blown away, Ryan MacInnis, Bracco (if he signs) and Opilka aren’t going anywhere. Franzen and Sergeev should be safe as imports are rarely moved.
Most teams aren’t in the market for OAs so that means Brandon Robinson and Brosnan should remain. I don’t see the team luring Henderson north only to trade him while Mascherin is a building block of the future. The Rangers will need defenceman Frank Hora since he’s the team’s most reliable rearguard so he’s safe too.
The rest are probably up for grabs, for the right price.
Of the lot, I can see teams asking about F Darby Llewellyn (veteran player, proven goal scorer), F Nick Magyar (Colorado Avalanche draft pick, led Rangers in scoring two years back), F David Miller (streaky, but scores in bunches) and defencemen Dylan Di Perna and Doug Blaisdell (both big defenders).
Also of interest are F Mike Davies (former first round pick), Bunnaman (coming off strong rookie campaign) and Kohn (a feisty forward).
Rangers GM Murray Hiebert believes in building through the draft and is reluctant to part with youngsters.
But, as the old saying goes, you have to give something to get something.
So count Meireles and defensive prospects — Sean Allen and Connor Hall — as players potential dance partners will at least ask about.