Looking At The Rangers Additions And Subtractions
Training camp is scheduled to begin in September and the New York Rangers have a roster filled with some new faces. Did GM Chris Drury do enough to vault the Blueshirts into the post-season for 2021-2022?
The Rangers will look dramatically different when the team steps onto the ice for opening night. Six players from last season have moved on whether by trade, draft, or free agency. In contrast, seven players were added.
- Patrik Nemeth
Chris Drury addressed the huge elephant in the room which was toughness. Acquiring Reaves was the clubs way to handle the situations like the Tom Wilson incident last season. Reaves can bring some offense to the game while giving some of the top boys a breather here and there.
He has appeared in 686 games with 101 points. He has 937 career penalty minutes, and that stat alone is what the club is looking for with this deal. Hard nose, take no crap hockey.
Goodrow, Blais, Tinordi, McKegg, and the others bring additional toughness, but none have the offensive prowess to put the puck in the net.
The subtraction of Pavel Buchnevich raised an eyebrow for many. Who is going to replace the 20 goals and 48 points he put up last season. The Rangers groomed Buch for five years and when he was becoming the player the team wanted, they moved him to St. Louis to conserve cap space.
Adam Fox Named Team Mvp
Based on the impact he’s had in two seasons with the Rangers, Panarin will always be viewed as the front-runner for team MVP.
But as good as Panarin was again this year, he finished as the runner-up.
The 2021 winner, as voted on by the media members who cover the team, is Fox.
“For me to get recognized like that, it’s special,” Fox said.
The 23-year-old skated in 55 games this season, registering 47 points with a plus-19 rating, a 54.78% expected-goals-for rate and a team-high 24:42 average time on ice per game.
Fox currently leads all NHL defensemen in assists and points and is likely to be named as a finalist for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s best defenseman.
“I was able to take on a bigger role and be trusted in defensive and offensive situations,” Fox said. “When points are able to follow, obviously, that’s when people start to recognize maybe a little more. But I think, for me, my game is more of a simple game. It’s not the flashiest game. I just try to make the right play every shift.”
Kaapo Kakko Must Produce Better Offensive Numbers
Kaapo Kakko was selected second overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-3 winger is now 20 years of age and must take a giant leap forward in his development. He finished the 2020-21 campaign with 17 points on the strength of 8 goals in 48 games.
Of course I would like more points, Kakko told YLE News. When I played in Finland, it was all working for me. Now the last few seasons have been quieter for me. Still, Kakko views last year as a step in the right direction. Im pleased with . I was able to improve my game.
Gerard Gallant has been pretty adamant about giving young players an opportunity. Hes also openly stated that he doesnt believe top prospects should be utilized on the fourth line. I dont think young players can sit on the fourth line and get a lot out of that, Gallant explained his philosophy on development. I think young players with a lot of talent if they are first, second, or third line hockey players youve got to play them.
Can Kakko do it? The good news for the Rangers is when you look at Kakko through some different lenses, theres small signs that he can pick up Buchnevich slack. He still ranks first in goals for all players selected in the 2019 Draft with 19 tallies. He also ranks second in points with 40.
Bottom line, with the physicality on the bottom six addressed, Kakko may very well be one of the most important players to the Rangers and their playoff hopes for this season.
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With Playoffs Out Of Reach Rangers Will Experiment
Alexis Lafreniere of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac
Now, in the final week of the season, and with the playoffs out of reach, it is time for the experimenting to begin for the Rangers.
Of course, having had the youngest roster in the league for most of the season, coach David Quinn had to be somewhat creative all season long with how he deployed his younger players within the lineup. But now that the results are no longer critical to the teams chase for a playoff spot, Quinn can feel free to be even more creative.
“Yeah, if It’s gonna help us win the game, we’ll experiment, and try anything, Quinn said after Mondays morning skate, as his team prepared to take on the Washington Capitals at the Garden Monday night. “You know that with as many young players as we have, I think you’re always looking for different combinations, because there’s just so much uncertainty on who can play with who. And I think you’re going to try different things.
Chris Kreiders lower body injury and Brett Howdens broken foot opened a couple spots for Quinn to get prospect Morgan Barron into the lineup, as well as get another look at Julien Gauthier, who sat out 14 straight games before being playing against the Islanders Saturday night.
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Who Will Carry The Load
It appears the Rangers will rely heavily on Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Artemi Panarin, and the other veterans that are the core of the Blueshirts.
Despite that, a lot will fall on the shoulders of these four players Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere.
The reigning Norris Trophy winner will enter a season loaded with expectations. Chytil, Kakko, and Lafreniere will need to have strong, consistent seasons if the Rangers have any thoughts of making the playoffs.
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Race For The No 1 Pick
The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order at the top of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. New for 2021, a team may move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here.
How Does This Translate To This Year
The Rangers sit three points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot, with the Bruins having played three fewer games. That puts the Rangers in a tight spot. The Bruins have been playing .500 hockey since their 1-0 victory over the Rangers on Feb.12, going 7-7-3 during that span and not losing more than two games in a row. If Boston continues to simply tread water at .500, the Rangers will need to record 31 points over their next 24 games.
The good news is that replicating their current level of play would get the job done. The New York Rangers have played to a .654% points percentage during the month of March, going 8-4-1 over their last 13 games. That is also the bad news. This stretch accounts for the best results the team has had all year and only equals the minimum requirement to catch Boston. And that is only if the Bruins do not also raise their game.
Are the playoffs a possibility? Absolutely, but not likely.
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New York Islanders 60 Points
The Islanders have a favorable schedule including four games against Buffalo and New Jersey. They have six games at the Nassau Coliseum where they have lost only twice this season. They do have three games with the Rangers and if the Blueshirts can win all three, the margin is only two points. The Islanders have faltered lately, losing four of their last 10, but thats still a winning record.
- Sabres 2
- Rangers 3
- Capitals 3
Projection: The Islanders can take three of four from the Devils and Sabres leaving them with seven games against the contenders with four at home. If they follow their recent trend and win four of those games, they will finish with 74 points.
New York Rangers Season Review & Playoff Preview
It has been a while since the Rangers last played, March 11 to be exact. But, they are getting set to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Havent had a chance to catch up on the seasons main storylines? Heres your chance to refresh your knowledge.
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Filip Chytil Must Find Another Level
He showed real promise this past season despite an injury to his wrist. In 42 games, he scored 22 points a .14 points per game improvement over his previous year. The young center, who still seems better suited at wing is now signed for two season at $2.3M AAV.
Chris Drury has reshaped the bottom six of his lineup in order to diversify the way the Rangers play. Barclay Goodrow could center the third line and allow Chytil to play the wing and thrive. If Gallant also drop Chris Kreider to the 3rd line LW, that unit could not play a heavy game, but could add some scoring punch.
Regardless, this is a big season for the former first round pick, 21st overall in the 2017 Draft. He is a trade chip for Chris Drury, but if he remains, Chytil must find that other level or find himself elsewhere to make way for other prospects like Will Cuylle or Brennan Othmann.
Jacob Trouba Must Pick Up His Play On The Ice
When the Rangers lost Trouba to a concussion in the first period of crucial game against the Islanders in April, it had major ramifications. Without the 27 year-old defenseman, the Blueshirts lost that game and were quickly removed from the playoff picture after a serious push that started in March.
Troubas importance to this team goes way beyond his on-ice efforts. Thanks to his calming influence, rookie defenseman KAndre Miller had an outstanding inaugural campaign. Miller also publicly cited how helpful Trouba has been to him personally on and off the ice.
He currently wears an A, and is being considered for the next Rangers captain. However the Rangers need him to return to his 2018-19 form. In his last season with the Jets, prior to the Blueshirts trading for him, Trouba scored 50 points in 80 games. So far in NY hes only scored 39 points in 108 contests.
If the Rangers want to make the playoffs, he needs to produce more offensively while being the teams go-to shutdown defender late in games.
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Pittsburgh Penguins 59 Points
The Penguins have a very favorable schedule with seven out of their last 11 at home and with five games against the Sabres and Devils. The Pens are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and show no signs of fading. The worst news for the Rangers is that they have concluded the season series with the Rangers so there are no four-point games left.
- Sabres 2
- Flyers 2
- Capitals 2
Projection: The Penguins will likely take four of five from Buffalo and New Jersey. That leaves six games and the best the Rangers can hope for is a split. That means they will finish with 73 points.
New York Rangers Playoff Chances
How we did yesterday and who we should root for today. Explain
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Can The King Come Back
Thats a question thats been thrown around Manhattan for a couple of years now. Lundqvist will no doubt be in the Hall of Fame. Hes often carried the team on his back and hes taken them deep into the playoffs when most thought they didnt have a chance.
If it werent for the Kings overtime heroics in 2014, the Rangers wouldve had their first Cup in 20 years. However, the Kings won in five games although three of the five went to overtime. The series was much closer than it might seem on paper. Henrik still has one thing left to prove he might be 38 years old but dont think hes letting anything slip.
On the surface it might not seem like the Rangers have much of a chance to go deep into the 24-team playoff, however, after taking a longer look it appears they just could surprise a lot of people around the league if they can get everything to click. Will Panarin, Zibanejad, Kreider, solid team-defense, and the three-headed goalie monster be enough to make it happen? Well have to wait until the end of July or August to find out.
Can The New York Rangers Make A Run For The Playoffs
The New York Rangers have won three in a row, five of their last seven and have gained points in six of those contests. Taking seven of a possible 10 points from the Philadelphia Flyers has vaulted them into fifth place. They sit just three points behind the Boston Bruins in the East Division standings for fourth place. Suddenly the playoffs are in reach.
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Expensive Acquisitions And Post
Despite having coached the Rangers to a regular season first-place finish and the Stanley Cup, head coach Mike Keenan left after a dispute with general manager Neil Smith. During the 199495 lockout-shortened season, the Rangers won their first-round series with the Quebec Nordiques, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia Flyers in four games with succeeding head coach Colin Campbell. General manager Neil Smith orchestrated a deal that sent Sergei Zubov and center Petr Nedved to Pittsburgh in exchange for defenseman Ulf Samuelsson and left-winger Luc Robitaille in the summer of 1995. The next season, the Rangers defeated the Canadiens in six games but lost their second-round series to the Penguins in five games.
The Rangers then acquired Wayne Gretzky in 1996. Gretzky’s greatest accomplishment with the Rangers was leading them to the 1997 Eastern Conference finals, where they lost 41 to the Flyers, who were then led by Eric Lindros. Mark Messier, a former Oiler teammate of Gretzky’s, left in the summer of 1997 and the team failed in a bid to replace him with Colorado Avalanche superstar Joe Sakic. The Rangers missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, finishing no higher than fourth in their division. Gretzky retired after the 199899 season.
Rangers Can Make A Deep Playoff Run
The New York Rangers technically were outside an Eastern Conference Playoff spot when the regular season was suspended on March 12, 2020. However, before the COVID-19 lockdown, the Rangers had been playing pretty well. They were 13-7-1 since Feb, 1, and their two best offensive players, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad were on top of their game. Led by Panarin with 95 points and Zibanejad with 75, the team was starting to hit a groove.
During that 21-game span, Panarin registered 19 points, including a 13 game point-scoring streak. Zibanejad had a streak of his own in the last six games leading up to the pause, notching 11 goals and 2 assists. The team was also starting to play better defense. Though they still werent as consistent as head coach Dave Quinn would have liked, they showed promise in buying into the system. It really started to click on Feb. 1 with Henrik Lundqvists 1-0 shutout over the Detroit Red Wings, and if they can build on where they left off and peak at the right time anything is possible. Plus, they might have a Wild Card or two up their sleeve that can put them over the edge.
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Subban Sharangovich Make It Interesting
Igor Shesterkin went from potentially having a historic third straight shutout to fighting to hold on to a lead. In the third period, a sequence of 4-on-4 hockey saw the Devils score twice in 64 seconds to bring the score to 4-3.
P.K. Subban’s strike gave the Devils the second goal of the game as the defenseman had his fifth goal of the year. A minute and four seconds later, the Devils got back within one goal as Yegor Sharangovich scored the 10th goal of his rookie season. Jack Hughes had assists on both goals.