Rangers GM Jeff Gorton met with the media on Friday and said (NYR):
On sending Lias down, "when we looked at Lias and what is best for him is to play and not be on the fourth line. We went through a number of different scenarios about keeping him and playing him on the fourth line, moving him to wing. The more we talked about it, as a 19-year old he needs to play and play on the PP, developing and we felt that it was the best situation for him to be in Hartford."
On Howden, "As the camp evolved and the coaches started handing out more ice time and different situations he handled killing penalties and doing different things better and we could see him playing more ice than we would be able to give Lias right now. That is what it came down to. When we talk about Filip, Lias, Howden or Hajek, they are 19-20 year olds and trying to make the best league in the world. It's unrealistic that we could keep them all and have 6 or 7 19-20 year old players at the same time. We want to do what is best for them in the long run. Things change quickly but that is what we decided for today."
On Georgiev as the backup, "going back to how he played last year, the way he has played in camp, he has played really well and all signs are really good with his development. He belongs here. We will watch his ice time and make sure he is playing games but it was clear to us in camp that he is our number two guy. We will watch his starts and what opportunities he is getting based upon what Hank is doing and how he is playing. If it's a lot of Hank and there are some lulls in the schedule then we will have to consider sending Georgie down and play some games down there. We have that opportunity, he doesn't need waivers. He needs to play games and we are well aware of that."
More on Lias Andersson, "the easiest thing for us to do is put them all on our team and say look at us, we have all of these young players that are ready to play and we are going to be great some day and these guys are going to be great but the harder thing to do is make this decision for the players. We could easily find 5-7-8 minutes for Lias on our team right now, I think he is that close. He's pretty close to an NHL player but if we want to maximize where he is going and what he is going to be for us, it's the right decision. It's hard, it's hard for him. Personally I would like to see him here too right now but the long game is better than the short one in this call. Once they are drafted it's about getting them ready for the NHL and he's going to be a good player in this league for a long time and we are going to do everything we can to maximize that and do everything we can."
On Vinni Lettieri, "it's fair to say that he was right on the bubble and we talked to him about a week ago about stepping up and doing some things and he has played better the last few games and earned the right to be here."
What do you expect from this group, "to get better everyday and try to win every single game, that is what we try to do with every team we have. We have a lot of players in that room with a lot to prove, we have a lot of players in that room that can be better than last year, we have some new players that can add some different things. I think we will have an exciting team, skilled team, coach is doing a good job of implementing things we want and how we want to play. We will be exciting and hopefully surprise a lot of people."
On Henrik Lundqvist, "I leave most of that to Benny. We will see, our schedule is fairly light to start. We have 3 in 4 and then after that it's pretty slow. Hank looks good to me, Hank is in great shape, wants to play, likes to play more, plays better when he plays more, as long as he is playing well."
Do you expect to compete for a playoff spot, "I think we will get better everyday and these are all NHL players and I'm never going to stand in front of a group and tell them they are not good enough or they should have expectations lower than that. That is what we are telling our players and how we are feeling in the room. We are getting better everyday and who knows where we go from there."
Can you rebuild and compete at the same time, "I don't know, that is for you guys to figure out. We will take it a day at a time and get better. We have added a lot of good young players in the organization, a lot of them aren't here yet and a lot of them will come in soon and in the next couple of years and we will be better for it. I don't know how good we will be. We don't know until we go through it, all we know is that we have some good players here right now and a lot of players in that room that think we are pretty good."
On Brendan Smith, "I wanted to see a hungry guy that wanted to get back in the league and establish that he is an NHL defenseman. He did a lot of work in the summer to put himself in a good spot and I think he has had a good camp. He looks pretty good right now."
Did Hajek and Lindgren impress you, "yes, I think they did really well. For Lindgren, I think in Traverse City he had a slow start but in the two NHL games he showed really well. We talked to him this morning about what we want him to work on and go down and play your twenty minutes in all situations and there is some real upside there. With Hajek, he is a really talented kid and young player that, we have a situation with eight defensemen now and he pushed real hard and maybe in another time we would keep him longer, but for now, go down and play, all situations and keep getting better but really bright future for him."