Diaz, Megna Last two on way from New York

The parent New York Rangers got down the 23-man NHL roster limit Saturday by assigning veteran defenseman Raphael Diaz and centerman Jayson Megna to the Wolf Pack, after the two had cleared NHL waivers.

Megna is a guy who has spent the bulk of his three-year pro career in the AHL, but this is the 29-year-old Diaz’ first minor pro experience, after 201 career NHL games with Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and the Rangers and nearly 400 games in the Swiss A League, the top circuit in his native country. The Rangers kept Dylan McIlrath over Diaz as their seventh defenseman, which helps the Blueshirts with their salary cap situation but only by a margin of $100,000, according to Cap Friendly.

After reassigning Megna, the Rangers are at 14 forwards, two more than would normally dress for a game, and they are very close to the cap, with only about $150,000 in flexibility. It is doubtful that the team would want to stay that close to the limit, so it is quite likely that there will be more moves made in the near future.

Jayson Megna (Elsa/Getty Images)

Jayson Megna (Elsa/Getty Images)

“The more (cap) room the better,” was Ranger general manager Jeff Gorton’s comment to the media Friday. “For now, will go with 23 guys under the cap. We’re talking to people every day to see the scenarios of who might be available and what we might do. Realistically, not a lot comes out of it. But it’s good to know who’s available and what scenarios might be available down the road.”

And it does not sound at all like Diaz, or Megna for that matter, are being buried in the AHL. It’s just a numbers game at this point.

“This gives us good depth as we move forward here,” Ranger coach Alain Vigneault was quoted as saying by BlueshirtsUnited.com. “With Diaz, and even Megna who had a real camp, these are real good options for us.”

On the Wolf Pack side, the addition of two high-end AHL players is definitely a boost, and Coach Ken Gernander is excited to see what Diaz will add to what otherwise is a fairly young blue line corps.

“Certainly he’s a very good player, and he’s going to help our power play, he brings a lot to the table,” Gernander said before Saturday’s Wolf Pack preseason game at Lehigh Valley. “It’s going to make some decisions for us a little bit tougher, because this year we seem to have pretty good depth at the defense position.”

Megna, for his part, is coming off of a bit of a breakout year, a 26-goal AHL season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2014-15.

“He should help shore up things in the middle,” Gernander said of Megna, “center’s always a real important position, and I thought he did a good job with the big club in camp, so we’re looking forward to getting him here as well.”

On the other side of the coin, from a development perspective, Gernander expressed excitement and satisfaction about the steps forward taken by McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg (also kept on the Ranger roster), who were both mainstays for Gernander the last two seasons.

“I think it’s great, I’m really happy for the two of them,” he said. “We’ve worked closely with them the last couple years, and you see how much hard work they’ve put into their careers, and to see it get paid off here for the opening roster, I think that’s great.”

Saturday’s game in Allentown is the Wolf Pack’s second of three preseason games, after they opened their exhibition slate with a 3-2 overtime win at Bridgeport on Thursday night. The playing roster in that game was comprised mostly of tryout players, but since then the overall camp roster has been pared down to a much smaller number.

“I think we’re getting closer and closer to our opening-day roster as the weekend goes on,” Gernander said. “(Saturday’s game) will probably be about 50-50 and then tomorrow, the game in Cromwell (against Bridgeport at 3:00, the Wolf Pack’s only home preseason tilt), we should be pretty close to our opening-day roster, minus a couple players.

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