Why do I get this feeling that I have seen this scenario play out time after time with the Rangers? Fans get fed a steady diet of positive talk about rookies and prospects, but when push comes to shove, the organization looks to veteran players when times get tough.

I would be willing to let the team have a pass on giving Sandis Ozolinsh another chance if he wasn’t taking up about $2.5 million worth of cap space and if the Rangers weren’t blocking a Thomas Pock from showing his wares. While Glen Sather managed to keep the Rangers away from the salary cap hell other teams are in, his “generosity” with his defensemen has painted him into a corner if he needs to swing a deal a the trade deadline – never mind trying to make a deal now.

Now we are hearing some talk that Nigel Dawes might be sent down to Hartford. Given his lack of ice time, it might not be the worst thing in the world. It is better that he sees regular ice time in Hartford than struggle to see seven minutes a game in New York.

<>I know what you are thinking. What happened to playing the prospects? Fortunately, for the first time, the Wolf Pack are not carrying the likes of a Brent Fedyk to clog up ice time. Instead, it would be a good chance to take a look at some other forward prospects. While I thought that Jarkko Immonen would make the team after a solid training camp, I am intrigued at the prospect of another forward – Brandon Dubinsky. <>

<>I have to admit that I really enjoyed the way Dubinsky played during the pre-season. He already is showing all of the ingredients of being an uber-pest – something the Rangers can use in the light of all of the finesse players on the team. It is his tenacity that could get his skate into the NHL door and it will be the development of his NHL game that sees him move from fourth-liner to a vital component of the top two lines. Speaking of development, the same concern I expressed about Dawes also goes for Dubinsky. Would it be better for him to stay in New York as the fourth line center or go to Hartford and be their number one center?

<>At some point the Rangers just have to let their prospects sink or swimIt is the only way they are going to gauge their ability in the NHL. But in doing so, they have to give kids like Dawes, Dubinsky et al more than just token shifts per game. Tom Renney must have the confidence in them to give them a regular shift – and even look to them to step up and take playing time away from veterans.

It seems that Renney likes Marcel Hossa more than I day. I guess the coaching staff values his ability to kill penalties as well take a regular shift. I guess it beats having the likes of a Fedyk or Patrick Flatley standing in the way of younger (and better) players. I imagine that it is still possible that Hossa will live up to his advanced billing, but I can’t help but wonder if the Rangers could make better use of his $600,000 salary slot. Hmm, why not trade him to Atlanta so he can join his brother Marian?

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