Rick Nash and young players could make Rangers Cup favorites, Tuukka Rask ready to become Bruins starter, four of the “Russian Five” to play in 2013 Winter Classic Alumni Game, Barclays Center owner hoping to woo the Islanders, and former NHLer Bill Kitchen recently passed away.

ESPN.COM: Neil Greenberg suggests the addition of Rick Nash and improving youngsters like Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin could make the NY Rangers the favorite this season to win the Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. Yes, it’s a long season, anything can happen, and predicting in August the possible Cup champion next June is often a fool’s game, but given the Blueshirts strength in goal, blueline depth and solid defensive play, the addition of Nash and the promise of Kreider and Hagelin certainly makes them my favorite. And if they should also sign Shane Doan, those odds improve.

Rask ready to become Bruins starter.

BOSTON GLOBE: Tuukka Rask believes he’s ready to take over as the full-time starter of the Bruins. Rask acknowledged being surprised over former starter and teammate Tim Thomas’ departure, but appreciated all Thomas did for him and the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not as though Rask lacks experience as a starter for the Bruins. He’s ready now for a full season in the role and I expect he’ll be fine in the role.

DETROIT NEWS: Four of the Red Wings famous “Russian Five” – Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Viacheslav Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov – will participate in the 2013 Winter Classic alumni game. Vyacheslav Kozlov, the final member, is awaiting details for the upcoming KHL schedule before determining if he’ll also participate.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Bruce Ratner, owner of the Barclays Center currently under construction in Brooklyn, NY, is “trying like hell” to get the NY Islanders to make his arena their new home. The Islanders currently play on Long Island in the decrepit Nassau Coliseum. Their lease agreement there expires in 2015.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If no deal can be worked out to improve the Isles current arena, Ratner’s wish could come true for 2015-16.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Former NHL player Bill Kitchen passed away earlier this week from a heart attack. My condolences to his family and friends.