Why the Rangers will be better next season

July 9, 2014, by
Rick Nash will be better next year, won't he?

Rick Nash will be better next year, won’t he?

Apparently during the first week of July, the Rangers got worse. On paper that may be true given their losses during free agency but too much emphasis is placed on old clichés such as ‘the grass is greener on the other side’.
Didn’t the Rangers just get to the Stanley Cup final? It’s pretty green in NY right now too. People underestimate the potential of the current roster. Here are a few key reasons why the Rangers will be better next year, despite the hits endured in free agency.

Rick Nash

Everyone’s favourite whipping boy in the playoff run, Nash cannot be as snake bitten as he was during the postseason run. He also missed a chunk of time during the regular season and yet still led the team in goals and was third in the league in game winners. Assume for a moment Nash remains healthy and has an uninterrupted season. Assume for a moment he has a full year opposite a maturing Chris Kreider. Nash will return to his goal scoring form and make the Rangers more dangerous offensively.


Henrik Lundqvist

Had the Rangers beaten LA to the Cup, all bets would have been off – the King would have also been Brian Leetch’s heir to the NY, Conn Smythe thrown. All of this masks the fact, that Henrik Lundqvist was rather ordinary for a large part of the regular season and needed admirable support from an unknown rookie Cam Talbot before regaining his regal self. There’s no reason to suggest anything other than a return to his dominant best when next year begins – it’s what the NHL is accustomed to from Lundqvist.

Old, Wiser, Better

Carl Hagelin became a two way stud in the playoffs. Chris Kreider was almost a point/game playoff performer immediately after returning from an extended period off the ice. Mats Zuccarello has become a legitimate offensive threat on a contending team and Derick Brassard again proved he can perform when it matters most.
The Rangers still have weapons who have yet to max their potential and all four forwards’ trajectories are pointing upwards. Mere sustained progression from the likes of Kreider and Brassard will accommodate for the loss of Benoit Pouliot to Edmonton.

Familiarity breeds success

Remember the Rangers start to the 2013-2014 season? Most fans have tried to forget the ugly start. A long road trip, an interrupted camp, injuries and hold outs, and a new system and coaching staff. Well, the Rangers have a much easier start to the year thanks to no unnecessary road trip but most of all they return the same coaching staff led by Alain Vigneault. With the core of the team intact the Rangers will be much better equipped to be ready for day 1 and in Alain Vigneault they have a coach motivated to take one further step. No in-house issues for next years edition of the Rangers to contend with should mean a quicker start.


The fact that the Rangers likely return several elite players who ‘underperformed’ last year and face much less acclimatisation will help this team throughout the year. No irreplaceable players were lost, all the core, elite performers were kept. A predominantly young team, with the best goaltender in the world? There’s still plenty of reason for optimism in the New York Rangers.

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  1. scott says:

    I agree that there is great potential success for the Rangers next year.Go Rangers!!~

    • amy from bayside says:

      i think the rangers will be better because nobody expected them to get to the finals and they surprised a lot of people

      • TxRanger says:

        what? if anything, people will play them harder knowing how dangerous of a club they are.

        I just want to say that Chris’ articles like this, unfound and naively optimistic, undermine the credibility of this site. This kind of stuff is just bad.

        • Scully says:

          None of what he wrote was naive. You’re just naively pessimistic. Why don’t you just stop rooting.

        • cv19 says:

          Not so naive. Their D is far superior than it was at the start of last season. They’ve also kept intact their core guys and added a year’s experience the younger guys of that group.
          They’ll be better for sure.

        • Chris says:

          Excuse me for pointing out fact, and… daring to be optimistic after our team got within 3 wins of the Stanley Cup?… People as unnecessarily pessimistic as you shouldn’t follow sports teams. Why bother?!

          • scrangersfan says:

            You had made some good points Chris but the question is will they be good enough to return to the finals.

        • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

          Yeah, you should be ashamed of that comment. The players that remain from last season are playing together another season and this became a tight group of players through the playoff run. On paper we lost a few good players but there is superstar talent on this team. I’m sure a free agent will be added or a trade will be made. These guys know the game better than any of us. I take their word for it and agree with them. Besides the addition by subtraction theory applies here. We will bring up some young players and make good NHL players out of them. Jesper Fast & JT Miller will likely make the team out of camp. I also think Danny Kristo and his right handed shot should get a long look. He skates like an NHL player and has a deceptive shot to beat goaltenders. Time the Rangers added some youth and speed to the grey beards and veterans they have.
          The one thing I don’t agree on Chris is Kreider with Nash. Unless Kreider can play RW he should be moved to the second line. A righty free agent like Setoguchi should be signed so Nash can play on the left where you guys showed he scored most of his goals from. That chart you showed on his goals made me a believer and he played better under Torts where he was on the left side often.

          • TxRanger says:

            I stand by my words. I would also like to challenge anyone to point out where in my post that I question the potential of this team, because I did not. I love this team. Did I not describe them a dangerous?

            The post was simply in regards to the validity of Chris’ claims. These “they will be better because I think they will be better” articles have no place amongst the great insight based on empirical analysis that gets published on this site on a daily basis.

            You are all missing the point here, and attacking me on something I simply did not say.

            • Chris A says:

              Tx, Chris did say that Nash and Lundqvist should be more like their normal selves this season while Kreider, Zuccs and Hagelin should be even better. That’s not too big a leap of faith Chris is making. I certainly wouldn’t say Chris’ take flies in the face of the empirical analysis we get on this blog.

              If you believe in empirical analysis then, yes, Nash should be more productive this season simply by playing a full season. Lundqvist should improve and regress to his career norms. Young, talented players in their primes like Kreider, Hagelin and Zuccs should improve and post more productive seasons than they did last year.

              Chris may not have explicitly said it but I think it’s safe to assume the above reasons are why he thinks the Rangers should be in good shape this year.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Better in the regular season, or on a whole? I would think it will be difficult to be better than being the Stanley cup loser, just sayin. I do think that the bulk of the team knows AV’s methods, making a smoother transition. I would hope the PP is better with Boyle at QB and MSL picking up loose pucks. I fear the PK will be worse, as someone needs replace B.Boyle, and I am unclear of who that is.

    As far as 5v5 hockey, I just do not know. Line 1, intact, but can someone step right into Richards role? Pretty big shoes. Can someone equal Pouliott? More big shoes. To me, 4th line is a wash, but 2nd pair defense worries me. A slow footed Stall teamed with an old, slow partner could be a recipe for disaster against speedy forwards.

    I believe we have an interesting training camp ahead of us.

  3. Craig says:

    Our 4th line was one of our main strengths
    There were times when they were our best line out there. Though we still have Moore, that chemistry has been dismantled. Major hit right there.
    Still lack a major center and though not great, Richards was experienced and had a decent year. Replacement most likely an inexperienced unproven Lindberg. Another hit
    Lost Poiliot an important chemistry to or best line. Another hit.
    Can Miller or Fast compensate? To me, they have shown very little so far playing at the NHL level, not impressed at all. Another hit.
    The only semi bright spot is Dan Boyle who may help on the Power play,but is slower and not the player he once was.
    We need a strong 4th line, a legitimate center and a physical defenseman; then I will be more optimistic. To many ifs yet on this team. I think right now on paper, they are somewhat of a weaker team then last year, but who knows what surprises can happen. Last year was a total surprise!

  4. Ray says:

    Wouldn’t count on a full year of Nash working with Kreider. I suspect Nash moves to the left side and lines get rearranged.

    One defense of the changes. Boyle and Dom Moore are very similar players. Early indications are that Lindberg is in this mold, though we hope he will surpass the other two. These players are useful, but you don’t need a bunch of them. It would have been crazy to keep both Boyle and Moore.

  5. Walt says:

    I’ll feel better when they resign Zucc, Brass, and Kreider. Then we can start planning what our next move is, not until then. Let’s not forget Zherdev went to arbitration, and we didn’t sign him, so he walked. I’m not saying that will happen again, but funnier things have happened?????

    • Ray says:

      Didn’t they change the rules so teams can’t walk away anymore?

      • Walt says:

        If that is the case, I wasn’t aware of it?????

        • Ray says:

          I remembered something was discussed in the new contract, so I looked it up. At least according to Wikipedia, teams can now walk away from large awards ($3.5 M plus), whereas the previous threshold was one million. So the Rangers can’t walk away from Kreider and probably not Zuke, but an award that large for Brassard would not be shocking.

      • scrangersfan says:

        They can walk away from 2 but they must keep one of the 3.

    • scrangersfan says:

      I totally agree with you Walt. They must keep all three of Brassard, Zucc. and Kreider. They can not take a hit and lose any of those young ones.

  6. Chris F says:

    Certainly, we should expect players like Nash, Kreider, Hagelin, Staal, Girardi, Lundqvist etc to all have stronger performances this year (due to more experience, greater familiarity with AV’s system, and just returning to old form, i.e. Nash, Staal, Girardi). That would be great news.

    Certainly, we should also expect players like Zuccarello and Brassard to continue their brilliant playmaking.

    There are a lot of questions marks, though. Can Miller and Lindberg earn consistence roster places and fill the holes asked of them? Will MSL feed off his strong playoff performance and return to the form that he somehow completely lost in the regular season with NY? Will Dan Boyle be a defensive liability? Will the 4th line have any positive effect whatsoever? Will the lack of depth down the middle become a major Achilles heel?

    There is definitely much to be optimistic about. But, there remain many valid concerns and question marks, so at this point, there is no reason to have much more than tempered expectations.

  7. RangerMom says:

    Another reason for optimism — an entire season of Marty St. Louis (even as a 39 year old).

  8. roadrider says:

    Well that’s a real question isn’t it? As you point out there are reasons for optimism but the probability is that not everything will go our way. Also, I still don’t see evidence that the Rangers have effectively replaced the guys who have departed. A lot depends on how ready guys like Miller, Lindberg and Fast are ready to step up and contribute. None of those guys are “can’t miss” prospects. I don’t think that a season of remaining at the same level, that is, a scoring deficient team overly dependent on the goalie, or even a small step backwards is out of the question. Will the recent roster moves pay off. I think so, eventually. But it might not be next season.

    • scrangersfan says:

      I’ll tell you one spot where the Rangers will not be better is on defense Strahlman vs.Boyle. Strahlman is a very underrated D. man and Boyle is a fading old timer who is rated on his reputation which he can no longer live up to.

  9. supermaz says:

    I’ll say it again. ….JT Miller will be an NHL all star

  10. RJ says:

    Not mention of former scoring champ Marty St. Louis, will he not make team better?

  11. Erixon20 says:

    I believe the team will have a better regular season, but many things will have to break their way in order to return to the Final, same as any other team. To become a legit favorite to play for the Cup this coming season, I think we’d have to add Big Joe which means giving up Staal or Brass, plus pieces. Depth at center, including a true #1 (no offense to Step), has proved to be pretty important, and Step/Brass/???/Moore is very good, but not LA good.

    • Chris A says:

      I don’t think so. I think the Rangers along with Boston and potentially Tampa are the class of the East.

      Pitt is getting worse and worse, I don’t care that they just put up 109 regular season points that is a bad team.

      The Flyers were a fluke. NJ, Ottawa, Buff, Florida, Carolina, Toronto and Washington are non-factors.

      Columbus, the Islanders and Montreal could be threats. I just don’t see how the Rangers need a ton of things to break their way to make a deep playoff run.

      • Erixon20 says:

        Yeah, because of East weakness I could see them standing pat, going after a FA center next year, and still having a decent playoff run. But unless you are Chicago or LA, it is pretty difficult to repeat such a deep run. And we did catch some breaks on our way to the Final last year (relative good health, no Boston, Price going down), let’s not forget. That said, I like AV, the team, and the moves made so far, and consider NYR one of the top 3 teams in the East as well. Of all those teams, Boston, TB and Columbus scare me the most, MTL and possible Washington next.

    • scrangersfan says:

      Please! no more old-timers, we have too many of them already. Thornton is passed his prime and would not be an improvement over Stepan. We need more young players not getting a bunch of over the hill geezers. We went through that before and it didn’t work.

  12. Erixon20 says:

    Normally I would agree, but do you want to chase the Cup this upcoming season, or when the young players that you speak of have fully developed and Hank is too old? We have a very good core coming into their prime, and the window of Hank’s superior play will eventually close, so the time is now. Don’t blow up the team or trade away too much youth, but you need to give yourself a chance now….and I think another veteran piece will do it. Then again Evander Kane is intriguing too…..