Could the Rangers experience a step back in 2012-2013?

July 10, 2012, by

Optimism over the state of the Rangers hasn’t been this high in over a decade, so fans are understandably spending much of their time brainstorming different scenarios that could put New York over the top in 2012-2013.

The Blueshirts were just two wins away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance last season, so there’s reason to believe that just a couple improvements could be the difference.

However, we should all recognize that New York is way ahead of schedule and that the young club overachieved last season.  There’s no doubt that this is a very talented group with an extremely bright future, but the baby Rangers aren’t the only young team that shocked the league over the course of the last half-decade.

And while many of those teams did continue to grow together and became perennial powerhouses, it’s been a recurring pattern that young teams often take a step back after their surprising playoff runs.

  • After their Stanley Cup victory in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to part with much of their supporting cast and tumbled to an eighth-seed in the Western Conference in 2010-2011.  Chicago was eliminated by Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs.
  • In 2009-2010, the Colorado Avalanche rode a wave of fresh young talent led by third-overall pick Matt Duchene to a 95-point season and an eighth seed, but the Avs finished 14th in the Western Conference with 68 points a year later.
  • In 2008-2009, a surprising St. Louis club led by a similar young core to that of the Rangers grinded out a sixth seed in a tough conference but went on to barely miss the playoffs the following season.
  • That same year, Columbus earned its first and only playoff berth thanks to a Calder Trophy winning season from rookie netminder Steve Mason.  The next season the Jackets fell to 14th in the Western Conference.

Columbus and Colorado were both flukes and didn’t possess enough talent to be annual playoff threats while Chicago and St. Louis quickly established themselves as legitimate contenders.  New York appears to be in the mold of the latter two, but these examples serve as cautions that even young teams poised to establish themselves as fixtures among the elite of the NHL can suffer hiccups along the way.

New York boasts an excellent coach in John Tortorella, a Vezina Trophy winning goalie and a very hungry, team-first group, so the Rangers may not be as susceptible to a second-year dip as some of those other clubs.  Maybe a young team like Ottawa will be the latest example of that trend.

But even if the Blueshirts disappoint a bit in the second year of this new era, it shouldn’t be terribly alarming.  Ups and downs are part of the maturation process for a young team and aren’t necessarily indicative of the team’s true potential.

Ponying up for a big star is one commonly suggested way to push the team forward, but it may be better to just let the natural progression take its place.



  1. Sioux-per-man says:

    Agree. Let Kreider, Hagelin, Stepan, McDonagh, Del Zotto, & even Bickel grow with this team. You might even see Erixon and Miller in the near future in case of injury.

    Cally, Dubi, Anisimov, Girardi, & Boyle have all matured into solid NHL players and leaders of this team (Dubi had an off year-but he will bounce back like DZ did).

    This team is coming into its own, they are very well coached, and have one of the best Defense in the league, with Henrik in the net.

    The question is, what one player pushes this team over the top to win. You have to give the Kings some credit, they added Richards at the beginning and Carter at the trade dead line. And they win for the 1st time ever. They traded Jack Johnson away to get Carter. Will the Rangers trade a young talent to get Nash or Ryan?????

    • Sioux-per-man says:

      Fogot Staal in Cally’s list.

      What this team needs is a Weber, he would be the quick fix for the power play. And perhaps the one player worth the “Nash Ransom”.

      • Pete says:

        Agreed about Weber, guys a game changer. Having said that, I dont think the “nash ransom” is going to be enough for Weber. I could however see them trading any of the top-4 for him, even McD.

        Would be nice though if it could center around Staal but it would make sense for Nashville to get someone younger and lock up long term like a McDonagh in exchange.

        • mark says:

          Weber is the answer but remember he is not signed..therefore, the nash ransom cannot be paid. This team could win with what it has + a doan or semin. Dont need to go crazy although Weber would be a great fit.

    • Walt says:

      Please don’t under estimate the value of the Kreider kid. With Gabby hurt, he will get plenty of playing time, and should show results.

      Personally, I would bring up Miller, and Erixon, give them a chance to prove themselves. I think that will be a winning combo going forward. If needed, later in the season, and either Nash, or Ryan are available, then we make a move. I trust the drafting that much!

  2. Jeff P says:

    “But even if the Blueshirts disappoint a bit in the second year of this new era, it shouldn’t be terribly alarming.”

    I disagree with this assessment. I see this current Ranger group as having a two year window, before this team will have to be broken up due to salary cap.
    Lundquist, Gaborik, Girardi and Cally are free agents in two years, and likely MdZ coming off a two-year second contract. How much will they cost (even if you don’t resign Gaborik). Staal is a free agent in 2014 (and large extensions will be due to Stepan and McDonagh too). I fully expect the cap to down in the new CBA also.

    So barring trades, Rangers’d better excel in the next two years. No room for a letdown.

    • Kevin says:

      Tough to say that when we don’t even know what the salary cap will be following the new CBA. I wouldn’t count on Gabby being re-signed either, both for financial and health reasons. Actually think the Rangers are in pretty good shape financially for the future.

      • wwpd says:

        I think I’m with Jeff on this one whatever the salary cap turns out to be, salaries will resize accordingly. In a year when you have to re-sign 4-5 of your top players including at least 3 legit stars who will get top dollar, whether the cap goes up or down there are really only two outcomes – bad, or worse.

        Best case scenario Gabby can walk because the kids step up.

  3. SalMerc says:

    I think the season showed we were a very good team but the playoffs showed we are a step below greatness. Getting to the playoffs is one thing (not terribly difficult) but doing well in the playoffs requires another player or two that I do not think is currently on the roster. Also note that Torts tends to wear out his welcome. Another great season but playoff flop might be just enough to end his tenure.

    • Kevin says:

      An Eastern Conference Finals berth is a playoff flop!?

      • SalMerc says:

        The Cup! Anything else just puts money in Dolan’s pockets and leaves an empty feeling in my gut. Who lost in the Superbowl! Who was the loser in the World Series? Let Lord Stanley’s Cup come to MSG, all else is failure.

        • Kevin says:

          Fine that that’s the goal, but to say Torts will lose his job because of another “flop” like an Eastern Conference Finals berth is probably a bit of a stretch.

          • Jess says:

            The Rangers have been building towards a future not just for a 1-2 year run but for several years.

            Will they win the cup every year no that is almost impossible in today’s NHL.

            But they will be in the hunt every year not fighting for the 8th seed.

            Tortorella has earned himself at least 2-3 years because of last season. The franchise is being developed based upon Tortorella’s system they are drafting players geared toward said system.
            Torts has a job as long as he keeps the team into contention.

            The Dolans look at the profit/loss ledger and every home playoff games is pure profit for them. They will keep Torts as long as he makes money

            • wwpd says:

              Really, don’t know what the relationship is like between Sather and Torts but it appears to be pretty solid, Glen has bought into the John Tortorella system and is finally seeing success from this team.

            • Pete says:

              Thing is, they play this so called “system” because they dont have the talent to sort of “let it fly” so they need to outhustle and for lack of a better word “outplay” their opponents.

              Having said that, it stands to reason that they current system they play is open to adding talent and opening things up a bit. They played too many tight games through out the year last season.

              Added scoring would really take this team to another level. Hopefully Glenn will make that happen.

        • roadrider says:

          “Who lost in the Superbowl! Who was the loser in the World Series?”

          Umm, the NE Patriots and the Texas Rangers. Not that hard to remember.

        • VinceR says:

          Man, that is what can make watching sports no fun at all…I don’t get how one could call a goal and a W shy of the cup finals a flop considering the expectations of that team in the beginning of the season.

          And if you really think that collection of players could have got that far if it wasn’t for Torts and the system, well…I don’t know what to tell you.

        • Blueshirt in Paris says:

          So Torts might get canned for his team flopping in the playoffs since only winning the cup is considered a success? They I guess there is only 1 coach you can hire and he is from LAK. All 29 other coaches flopped according to you.

      • Walt says:


        I agree with you, except that the team could have gone to the Cup itself, had Torts not run the 5-d-men through the ground. He rode the same players over, and over again. He defended himself by saying the guys weren’t tired, but I beg to differ!

        • wwpd says:

          The games the rangers lost, I can’t really just blame the d-men (although to be honest I am trying to repress most of the devils series from my memory)

        • JoeP199 says:

          No team goes to the Cup “by itself”. Another coach would have done things differently, maybe for the better, more likely for the worse (like not making it as far as they did in the first place). I’m just getting sick and tired of all this tired old Tortorella (and Del Zotto) bashing.

  4. JimBob says:

    Shea Weber OR Rick Nash would be absolute losses for the Rangers….giving up 3-4 young players + some draft picks would assure a worse finish for the club not only next year but for years to come. NO ONE can convince me that either of these two players is worth losing the core + picks. If NYR stay the course they will be set for years to come.

  5. Chris F says:

    In 2012-13, I fully expect the Rangers to perform slightly below where they performed this past season. They achieved what they achieved this year relying on sheer heart, and playing at a dangerously intense level all season. They have done nothing to increase their overall talent level (excluding the fact that Kreider and Hagelin both were not on the team the beginning of last year), they face a strong possibility of losing Gaborik for the first two months of the season, and they lost some true warriors.

    I look at the roster today and it’s not that awe-inspiring.

    The good news? Unless they completely tank, my expectations now won’t be let down…

    • SalMerc says:

      Agreed! Don’t be surprised if at mid-year, if they are not in the top 3 slots, that there will be whispers of Torts putting too much pressure on the kids to perform. Thats why you need a veteran scorer who can take the heat so a kid like Kreider can blossom (if he is here). You know Cally will play hard, but we’ll have to see about the rest.

    • Bobby G says:

      Don’t forget that while Hank was the best goalie in the league last season, it could be very tough to replicate that performance next year. I have expectations of the Rangers finishing in the top 4, anything else would be somewhat disappointing to me.

  6. Rickyrants13 says:

    Anyone who thinks the Rangers are going to take a step back clearly hasnt been paying attention. Baring the same injuries that stoped us from doing last year what we did this year. The Rangers should once again be one of the top teams in the East.

    The only thing that will come between them and winning the east again will be injuries or another team like Pitt or so just being better points wise.

    Unless Gabbys being out is really that bad. Go out and get Kostitsyn and Semin and we will be set.

    In My opinion unless Sather works magic he should just stay the course. YOU DO NOT NEED a Weber. When you have the top 4 that we have and what we have in Erixon, MciLrath and others

    • Chris F says:

      No, they do not need Weber. They need a Ryan-type addition.

      • SalMerc says:


      • Pete says:

        Every team needs a Weber, the guy is a game changer. Can’t say that about many, even fewer if you narrow it down to blue-liners.

        I mean who would you say is better?

        • rob sahm says:

          i know i am going to get ripped for this but webber reminds me of denis potvin although i think potvin was a much better scorer in his prime

    • SalMerc says:

      We all have opinions, but until they play 20 or so games, no one knows what the Rangers will look like. NJD should be worse, NYI should be better, Philly, who knows. Can Stall step up to pre-concussion status? Will we see Gabby in 2012? The off-season has supplied a plethora of 3rd & 4th line talent. I would rather give the 4th line spots to rookies, but we’ll see in November. We are on the road for the first 7 (I think), that won’t be easy either.

      • TXranger says:

        Agree with you here, we lost to NJ because their depth player out performed ours. Yes, Asham is a downgrade to Prust, but he still brings that style of play. Pyatt and Halpern are better than Mitchell and Feds (although I already miss Feds).

        • Pete says:

          The series with the Devils exposed the teams deficiency on O and weak bottom 6. It also demonstrated just how much 1. the toll the long playoff series took, and 2. how badly a second legitimate threat is needed behind gabby, no offense to Richards. Who by the way will benefit as well from another presence who can hit twine.

          One things for certain, most feel that the team overachieved a bit last year so if the need for scoring isnt addressed AND Gabby will miss two how can we hope for a better result? Best case Kreider fills in admirably though thats a lot to put on the guys shoulders.

          Come on Glenn, don’t pooch the monkey on this one…

      • VinceR says:

        Now THAT is a pretty solid prediction I can get behind 😉

  7. Mikeyyy says:


    We had major pieces injured the whole way and we made it to the conf finals.

    Sauer, Staal, gabby, dubi, Boyle.

    These guys play healthy. It’s cup time baby. This happens after every season. And we have grown accustomed to wanting to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal…

    Like Gomez, and dreary.

    That’s why I pause a moment.

  8. rob sahm says:

    i agree with jeff p a step back is not in the agenda what did torts say at his press conference we cant just say that a east finals or win a couple of rounds is ok we have to go for it what he meant was its cup time like right now like 2013 season. look to me this team is two players away from getting the cup we need a scoring winger and a offensive d man he can QB the PP sather done a great job at getting us depth with guys like asham , pyatt halpern and haley . but now its time to get what we need looks like philly ,pitt and the devils are not going in on nash ok sather wants to stand his ground and not give away a kings ransom to get nash ok then what about plan be semin is out there doan if he really wants a cup he will come here there is of course bobby ryan and other names that no no one talks about iginla dany heatley and why not a teemu sellane we lost because of no scoring beyond gabby and no bottom 6 depth against the devils well we got our depth now so mr. sather where is the godd damm scoring because i as a rangers fan for 30 years wont accept a 7th seed 2nd round if we are lucky knockout season just after coming off the best record in the east a year earlier its cup time now because the fools who say this team can afford a step back are hockey morons the window is now before it gets shut down in 2 to 3 years time

    • Chris F says:

      Who’s saying the Rangers CAN afford to take a step back? That’s not what I’m saying, that’s not what anyone is saying, as far I can tell.

      The fear is, that the Rangers ARE going to take a stepback, because the organization has yet to address those gaping holes left painfully obvious after the 2012 playoff run.

  9. Zen says:

    If this team doesn’t make a big move, I would bet my house that there is a significant letdown. Playing as a team and sticking to the system allowed them to overperform for the majority of the season, until a more talented team took them out. Staying the course WILL NOT help this team, because there are no elite talents in the system that are coming… to push them closer to the CUP. And how much longer will Henrik be in his prime?

    There are a lot of arguments that I can see both sides of, but this is not one of them. Unless you are a team that cultivating elite talent (i.e. Oilers), then staying the course is just plain idiotic. That doesn’t mean throwing youth anywhere to get veterans either… which is equally dumb.. But rather if you have a chance to get an elite talent in their prime for some kids who have limited upside (2nd/3rd liners), then you MUST do it or be disappointed in the spring for another decade.

    • Rickyrants13 says:

      The Devils were not more talented We were worn down and Our goalie couldnt win them all. He lost it at the end when we needed him the most

    • SalMerc says:

      Our 3rd and 4th lines did not put the puck in the net with any regularity. The off-season additions won’t change that. Dubi may be better, but don’t bet too much on Kreider just yet. Hank was great, but remember 1/3 of almost all shots got blocked. Sooner or later, someone will be lost for 20 games due to an injury doing that. Like I have said before, get me a player who can score and the other team has to worry about and we will be okay, otherwise I cannot see us moving forward.

  10. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    I would like to see the opposite angle, the young teams that had to lose before they won. Like CHI.