As the season (hopefully) draws nearer, there are a lot of excited Ranger fans, and for good reason. Following the Rick Nash trade, the Rangers finally have scoring depth to match their bottom-six depth. If Mike Sauer can find a way to get healthy for the start of the season –having made tremendous progress— then the Rangers defense could be one of the best in the league. Throw in Henrik Lundqvist, and you have a Rangers organization that is strong and balanced from top to bottom.
But therein lies the expectations. On Twitter the other day, there were many people tweeting to me that they expect Ryan Callahan to hit 70 points this year. They expect Chris Kreider to hit 60 points this year. If these are the expectations for two players that likely won’t be seeing much time with more than one of the big three (Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards), then it scares me to think what the expectations are for those three. Based on the Cally expectations, are people expecting Nash, Gaborik, and Richards to each break 90 points? Perhaps 100 points?
Call me cautious, but it is likely best for all parties to assume that these players will likely hit their career averages in scoring. For Nash, that is likely going to be 32 goals and 60 points. Remember that Nash for his career has more goals than assists, and while that may be a product of who he has played with, setting the bar significantly higher can only lead to disappointment.
As for Richards and Gaborik, we don’t even know if they will be lining up with Nash when the Slovakian winger comes back from injury. The Rangers can create one super line, but it might benefit the organization to put Nash with Derek Stepan to create another dangerous scoring duo. It’s a more prudent assumption that Richards and Gaborik continue on pace with career averages as well.
Side note: Remember that while Gaborik is out, the opposition will focus on Richards and Nash defensively.
Looking at Kreider, let’s remember that if he hits 60 points, he’s almost guaranteed the Calder Trophy. Last year’s winner, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, didn’t even hit 60 points. Sure, the past winners (Jeff Skinner, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin) have all eclipsed 60 points, but is Kreider really on a level with those guys?
I think it’s fair that since I spent the entire post about setting the bar too high, that I might give some of my own expectations for these players:
- Nash: 30+ goals, 65+ points
- Richards: 25 goals, 70+ points
- Gaborik: 25 goals, 50+ points (coming off a major shoulder injury)
- Kreider: 15 goals, 30 points
- Cally: 20 goals, 45 points
These numbers definitely stay on the conservative side of things, but I’m looking more into the adjustment period for Nash, and the fact that until Gaborik returns, teams can key in on Richards/Nash defensively, forcing the secondary scorers to step up. This is the bar set for my level of disappointment. If they fail to hit these numbers, I will consider it a bad season. If they exceed these numbers by 15%-20%, then I will be very happy. Otherwise, it’s just meeting expectations.
Of course, meeting expectations isn’t exactly all that bad, considering these numbers here. That’s 115 goals between 4 1/2 players (Gaborik counts as a half here in my logic, which makes sense in my head), and doesn’t even include Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, or Michael Del Zotto.