Vincent Trocheck came into his second Rangers training camp with a different presence to him.
The 30-year-old center is noticeably more comfortable, ingrained in the team’s chemistry and confident in his game.
Having a full season in New York under his belt has certainly played a part in that.
It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions for Trocheck early on last year, when the incoming No. 16 had to immediately fill the skates of the old No. 16 — Ryan Strome — and play alongside star wing Artemi Panarin.
The Panarin-Trocheck duo didn’t click through 20 of the season’s first 21 games.
Former head coach Gerard Gallant then briefly separated them but quickly reunited the pair for another two games before mixing up the lines yet again.
It wasn’t until the second half of the season that Trocheck started to find his game and make the partnership with Panarin work.
Trocheck centered Will Cuylle and Blake Wheeler on the third line in Thursday night’s 3-1 preseason loss to the Bruins.
It’s possible that’s where Trocheck starts the season, especially if Filip Chytil (upper-body injury) is in fact healthy and able to slot onto the second line between, presumably, Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere.
“I feel like my role is pretty similar. No matter where I play, I got to be looked at as a guy who can play 200 feet, play both ends of the ice well, be a leader,” Trocheck said earlier in camp. “Obviously, one of the veterans on this team, so got to go out there and lead by example. Hopefully, put the puck in the net, as well.”
Trocheck took the second-most faceoffs on the Rangers (1,286) last season, behind only No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad (1,398).
He led the club in faceoffs won (721), as well as faceoffs won in the offensive zone (301).
In addition to skating in all 82 regular-season games, Trocheck chipped in with 22 goals and 42 assists. His nine power-play goals were his most since 2017-18.
He scored one goal in seven playoff contests, too.
“He does a lot of different things,” Laviolette said of Trocheck on Wednesday. “Anytime from a coaching standpoint you have a player that can fill any different role that you want him to, that’s an important piece in the lineup. Defensively, offensively, faceoffs, leadership — there are a lot of things that he brings to the table — and I think he’s had a really good camp, too. He works.
“The games have been good, the practices have been good, and that’s a good reflection on him.”
Tyler Pitlick, who sustained an upper-body injury in Wednesday’s game, had “a good morning,” according to Laviolette. The head coach added that he doesn’t expect Pitlick’s injury to be an issue.
The Rangers assigned Dylan Garand to AHL Hartford on Thursday.