Top wild card all but guaranteed for Rangers

March 15, 2017, by

henrik lundqvist

As of Tuesday night, the Rangers sit four points back of the third place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metro Division. Columbus has a pair of games in hand as well. Per Sports Club Stats, their chances of getting that coveted top wild card spot is at 91%. There is still a chance the Rangers get into the top three in the division, but it’s a slim one.

What that means for the Rangers is a date with either Montreal, whom they have not beaten this season, or Ottawa. The Sens are two points back of the Habs with two games in hand, so that division is still wide open. Either opponent is easier than any of the three-headed monster in the Metro, though.

Many, including myself, were hoping the Rangers would get that WC1 spot. A good percentage of that group –not including me– wanted them to lose to grab it. Perhaps this is the best case scenario, where they don’t need to throw a game to secure it.

The security of being in the playoffs and seemingly locked into a seed gives the Rangers a bunch of options down the stretch. With this many injuries to key players, they are afforded the opportunity to rest some of their veterans down the stretch. This is a risk-free approach, as they are not tempting fate.

Perhaps it’s a time to get Henrik Lundqvist, who appears to be ready to return from his lower-body injury, some additional rest. Or since he was out for a week, maybe they give him a few stress free games to get him back in the groove.

With one month and twelve games remaining, this is also a good time for fans. We can watch the games without throwing things at the TV or yelling at a player that can’t hear us from our couch. I, for one, will enjoy the one month of stress-free hockey before I get more grey hair.

Or I just jinxed it.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. Al Dugan says:

    #30 isn’t ready to return, is he? They were talking first week of April the other night.

    WAS looked better last night then on West Coast trip, and Here come the Lightning to beat the Icelanders for the 2nd WC spot!

    BTW, by saying “one month of stress free hockey”, all this post means is Dave will not stay up late for any games on the West Coast trip!!!!!

  2. devilssuck says:

    He’s not ready to return. They sent Hellberg down so he can play with the Wolfpack during the 3 day break. He’ll be back on an emergency basis on Friday.

    • Dave says:

      Hartford doesn’t have any games during this span.

      • SalMerc says:

        They will have a practice though. NYR won’t

        • Chris A says:

          This yo-yo approach with Hellberg has to be a procedural move and nothing else. I am sure there are some conditions to emergency call-ups, and sending Hellberg back down likely satisfies those conditions. Or, like Sal said, maybe it’s simply that the Rangers aren’t practicing during this short gap in the schedule.

          As another poster said last week, Hank is almost certainly being rested with this ‘injury’. The initially reported 3 week injury window means Hank misses all these back to backs, comes back in time to start 4 of the final 5 games before the playoffs, and Raanta gets to play a string of games.

          As a side note, Raanta starting all these games potentially builds his value for a post-cup, pre-expansion draft trade. After all, it never hurts to have more trade options. Trading Raanta before the expansion draft would mean the Rangers are not compliant with the expansion draft rules, but they can simply sign a current FA veteran backup goalie (or trade a late round pick for a pending FA goalie’s rights and sign him) to satisfy the expansion draft rules. As long as this hypothetical G signs for $900k or less they can stash him in Hartford once the 17-18 season starts assuming the Rangers have a better NHL backup G option in mind.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Cap compliance. Team is currently $3mm over the cap due to callups. Have $9mm in cap credits available. At current payroll team eating through that reserve at $100k/day.l, so good for the rest of the season.

            Plenty of headroom for sure, but also need to account for performance bonuses. Vesey is listed as the only player with one, but I remember Hayes having one for one reason(had one on last contract for sure.)

            • Chris A says:

              Hayes doesn’t have performance bonuses, those are typically only on ELCs and 35+ contracts. Actually, I don’t think teams are even allowed to attach performance bonuses to contracts unless the contract is an EL or 35+ contract. They can add signing bonuses, but that’s something completely different.

              Vesey is likely not hitting any significant bonuses this year. Performance bonuses are split into two categories, A and B.

              B is where the big money is. If Vesey were to hit any one of his Cat. B goals he receives $2M this summer. Cat. B tends to be major league-wide awards/trophies, like the Calder, Hart, Art Ross, Selke, First/Second Team All Star, Top 10 in G/A/Pts. I think we can all agree Vesey won’t earn any of those this year.

              Vesey will most likely not hit any of his Cat. A goals either. Those are worth about $215k each. Typical Cat. A goals are top 6 in FW TOI on the Rangers, scoring 20 G, posting 35 A, posting 60 pts., being named to the All-Rookie team, top 3 in +/- on the Rangers, top 6 on the Rangers pts. list.

              One disclaimer, I took all those performance goals from the Auston Mathews contract. I felt comfortable using that as a guide for Vesey since, according to Cap Friendly as of last summer, Vesey and Matthews are 2 of only 22 players in league history to negotiate the maximum dollar amount for performance bonuses into their entry level contract.

  3. Egelstein says:

    If I recall correctly, last season, in order to avoid PIT and have NYI move up into that spot, the Rangers needed to lose the final game against DET. The Pens were clearly a team you did not want to face in the first round due to their scorching second half performance, but the Rangers still didn’t throw the game against DET and lose. If the unlikely does happen and it’s tight in the Metro at the end, I wouldn’t necessarily expect AV to call for an intentional loss to keep the WC1 spot this time around either.

    • sherrane says:

      Not necessarily correct, but close. The Rangers and Islanders entered play on 4/9 with 99 points, but the Rangers had the tie breaker with 42 ROW to 40. The Rangers had an afternoon game with Detroit while the Islanders had a night game against Buffalo (80 Points) and a night game the following night against Philadelphia (94 Points, cliched the last wildcard entering play). If the Islanders earned 3 points in those two games, they finish in 3rd ahead of the Rangers. The Islanders lost in OT against Buffalo and then laid down against Philly (lost 5-2) to clinch the #1 wildcard. The loss to Buffalo in OT snapped a 3-game Islander winning streak where they beat Tampa (97 points and 2nd in the Atlantic), Washington (President’s Trophy), and the Rangers. So they beat three teams that finished ahead of them in the standing and lost to two teams who trailed them in order to go through the Atlantic.

      • Egelstein says:

        Yes, I should have worded it a bit differently; I should have said in order to *possibly avoid PIT. Had AV been interested in tanking to face FLA, they needed to lose the DET game regardless, but they didn’t do that.