I keep reading articles from experts and insiders (oh how I hate the term insiders) that the Rangers need to tear it down and rebuild. How their reality is mediocrity not contention and that this organisation has little to be optimistic about. Pardon me for being a tad biased but the tear it down narrative is lazy journalism. Apparently the tear it down method is the correct path to restocking an organisation. I disagree. I also think the Rangers are nowhere near needing this radical approach.
If Jimmy Vesey had joined a Canadian franchise we’d be hearing Canadian insiders project a Calder worthy campaign. If Pavel Buchnevich was anywhere but New York I think we’d be hearing a little more of the Tarasenko and Kuznetzov comparisons too. It’s fashionable to think pessimistically about the Rangers – I guess this is what comes from being a deep pocketed, occasionally recklessly run franchise.
A quick appraisal: Last time I checked JT Miller (23), Chris Kreider (25) and Mika Zibanejad (23) were all young, top six forwards coming off 20 goal seasons. All three are trending in the right direction. Let us not forget to mention the merits of Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan. All three should be 50+ point players this coming season – anything less would be a disappoint and a surprise.
Remove the somewhat aging, but hardly decrepit, Rick Nash from the above group of players for a moment and consider one simple question. Why does a team that features the aforementioned bunch of talented twenty something’s need to tear it down and start from scratch?
Is it because their legendary and still very much elite goalie is approaching 35? Age didn’t stop Hasek and Brodeur. Or is the mere presence of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal such an extreme negative that Jeff Gorton needs to wave the white flag and trade everyone worth trading a la March 2004?
We are on the eve of the Rangers season opener against the Islanders and change is certainly afoot. That much is true. The Rangers enter the 2016/17 season facing more change and uncertainty than in almost a decade. They haven’t had a more blatant flaw (hello blueline) in years. As has been written all summer, the Rangers are apparently ill equipped for the modern, current method of NHL success. Yet there are reasons for optimism, reasons to ignore the lazy narratives.
Gorton appears to have addressed many of the difficulties this team faced last season (team speed, the penalty kill, forward depth) even if it’s biggest weakness remains. This team has a core that is young, it has more depth up front than I care to remember and yes, their goalie is still quite good. He’s also got a few good years left. These are not the hallmarks of a team that requires tearing down.
The Detroit Red Wings may be struggling right now but they have proved year after year that a franchise can build on the fly and that you don’t need to tear it down to contend. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are cap era examples (as well as our own dear Rangers) of how a few careful moves can keep you amongst the league’s elite without significant draft help.
We’re about to enter a new season and no media outlet, blogger or insider has offered up enough reason for me to believe the Rangers cannot succeed, and while I can recognise this team has its warts, they certainly haven’t offered up enough justification to suggest the Rangers tear it all down.
So look forward to watching the kids; the Vesey’s, Buchnevich’s and Skjei’s. There are plenty of reasons for optimism and a core in place that offers Rangers fans legitimate hope for the future. Ignore the lazy narratives and pessimism from the media. At least for the time being allow yourself to be excited. It is October after all.
"It's October, ignore all the pessimism and lazy narratives",