New York Rangers:
Last season – 4th in the Eastern Conference
The Rangers were among the favorites last season and they never got into that good stream of results they had two seasons ago. They had a several players who didn’t have their best seasons. Among them the two highest paid ones in Nash and Lundqvist. This is something the team is looking to change this season, and they have gotten younger.
GM – Jeff Gorton
Jeff Gorton is entering his second season as a Rangers-GM, did manage to put together a good first season in charge. By no means were it great, but they are still in a position to contend for another couple of years.
His biggest challenge is trying to stay competitive while bringing youth into the roster, something it seems they have succeeded doing this offseason. However it is a fine balance between losing experience and adding youth, he must make sure to not go too far if he believes this roster still has a shot at winning it all.
Head Coach – Alain Vigneault
Alain Vigneault is back for his 4th season in his five year contracts. The Rangers never really got going like in the previous two seasons and they were neither great offensively or defensively. Which is why the also got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs against a red hot Penguins last year.
His challenge will be to implement they younger guys into the roster, but I think it’s a problem he would like to have, because he likes to have a fast team, and this roster should be faster offensively than last season. He also need to get more primary guys going offensively, if they can’t? Look for the Rangers to try and trade Nash like they traded Gaborik, as he is the skater that has the highest caphit.
Mika Zibanejad (C), Jimmy Vesey (LW), Brandon Pirri (C), Michael Grabner (RW), Nathan Gerbe (C), Nick Holden (D), Adam Clendening (D), Josh Jooris (F),
2nd round pick 2018, 4th round pick 2017, 6th round pick 2016
Derick Brassard (C), Keith Yandle (D), Eric Staal (C), Viktor Stalberg (LW), Nathan Gerbe (C – mutual contract termination)
4th round pick 2017, 7th round pick 2018
The Rangers re-signed Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, Dylan McIlrath. Which means, pretty much all of them who they wanted to re-sign. They traded away Yandle, then Brassard for Zibanejad, before they managed to swoop in and sign the hottest free agent from college this season in Jimmy Vesey.
In addition, they have signed depth guys in Pirri and Grabner for every Rangers-fans hallelujah shouts when Glass was waived. Overall the Rangers gave to get this offseason. Overall they might look worse on paper, but I don’t think they will be.
Goaltending – 9/10
When you have Lundqvist as your goalie, you are in a good spot. It’s also a Lundqvist who weren’t up there among the absolute best last year, but he hasn’t really showed specific signs of decline, therefore I believe he will bounce back. Raanta is a good backup, and it will be a solid duo to have this season.
Defense – 8/10
Overall it’s a good defense. It’s not great by any stretch, but overall they should be defensively responsible. Girardi seems to be the one to receive the most criticism the last few years. But, he was a +18 in even strength while only putting up 17 points last season, that’s not terrible however you want to twist it.
In general, the Rangers ability to play good in even strength is what will help them in getting their offense going. Look for them to implement McIlrath and possibly Skjei into the roster permanently.
McDonagh – Girardi
Staal – Klein
Holden – McIlrath
Clendening – Skjei
Forwards – 8/10
There is a lot of pace is this lineup. A lot of it. The Rangers biggest concern is getting more players putting other players in position to score. They had 4 guys scoring 20+ goals last year. Brassard is gone, Zibanejad is in. If Nash and one of Hayes or Fast steps up, they could have 5 20+ goals scorers. However, their imminent need is having more passers.
Only four guys had more than 30 assist, and two of them is not with the team this season. They also lack the prominent goal scorer unless Nash is back to his good old self.
Kreider – Stepan – Zuccarello
Vesey – Zibanejad – Nash
J.T. Miller – K. Hayes – J. Fast
Pirri – O. Lindberg – Grabner
Buchnevich – Jooris
Team Composition – 8/10
Their goaltending should be awesome, their defense is solid, their forwards got plenty of speed. It’s a good mixture of experience and youth, might be a bit too much youth compared to experience. Rangers have some flaws in their team, lacking a defenseman who provides more offense, the lack of a prominent goal scorer and several playmakers who perform more offensively on a consistent basis.
Their depth however, is solid and they will be highyl competitive this season. Contender.
Leadership presence – 9/10
Most of the leadership in this group comes from the back end. Lundqvist, McDonagh, Girardi and Staal/Klein provide their fair share. Offensively Nash should have the common sense to take his share if he wants to bounce back from a bad year, Stepan is a young leader by doing, while Zuccarello is probably a driving force in the locker room. You probably wouldn’t believe it if I said he was the second oldest forward on the team.
Skill Value – 8/10
On the team, they have a lot of speed and core skills. They do lack a real goal scorer (unless Nash gets back there) and more players with playmaking abilities. There are too many who are a bit of both, which in my mind hurts their overall ability to produce more offense then they could. Outside the roster There isn’t much, you have Buchnevich who looks like will make the roster, but then who?