Rangers hockey returns on Saturday night after a longer break than anyone but the league and its players wanted, which means there's scant time left to familiarize yourselves with the newest members of the team.
It's been a long time since the Rangers have acquired these players. But because of the lockout and an entire summer and fall filled with other sports happenings, the Rangers' trades and free agent signings have receded into the back of the mind.
So we'll take a little time now to run down the new faces and the roles they're expected to play on the team.
Rick Nash: The chase for Nash only seemed to go on longer than the lockout as the Rangers were linked to him all last season before finally acquiring him in a trade that sent Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov to Columbus. Nash is expected to give the team a much needed scoring boost on the power play and anticipation for his pairing with Brad Richards should be feverish since Nash has been a top-flight scorer without ever playing with a guy who could set him up as well as Richards sets up his linemates.
All of the offense comes without a reputation for the dedicated work on the defensive end that John Tortorella demands. Whether Nash is incapable of doing it or if he wasn't asked to do it by a coach as persuasive as Tortorella is unclear
If it's the former, he'll probably get benched at some point so Tortorella can make his point about playing on both ends of the ice. Being rescued from hockey irrelevance has a way of inspiring a fellow, though, and our guess is that he'll wind up fitting in on a team whose ethos is exemplified by the two-way game of captain Ryan Callahan.
Taylor Pyatt: Pyatt's a big boy who excels at blocking shots, something that the Rangers could use after losing both Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko as defensive-minded forwards. Pyatt also scored four goals in the playoffs last year, which might suggest that his nine tallies in the regular season could move in the positive direction.
Jeff Halpern: Halpern's offensive numbers won't blow you away, but he's got one skill that should come in handy as the Rangers try to protect leads late in games. He wins almost 60 percent of his faceoffs, something that will make a tremendous difference whenever the Rangers need to get the puck out of their own end
Aaron Asham: Glen Sather's work as general manager has been pretty impressive in the last few years, but he still has a soft spot for giving regular player money to guys useless for anything other than dropping their gloves. Asham will be suspended for the start of the regular season for this bit of thuggery from the playoffs and we'll hopefully be seeing him sparingly once he's eligible.
Matt Gilroy: He's a new face, but only to those with short memories. Gilroy played two years with the Rangers before spending next year in Tampa and Ottawa, which means that they are making a pretty educated decision to have him fighting for the sixth defenseman spot.
Chris Kreider: This is a cheat, obviously, but the importance of having Kreider in a full-time role for a team that won the Eastern Conference in the regular season can't be overstated. He was the team's best offensive player in more than one playoff game and added a potency that made the Rangers an obviously better team.