Who will make up the next Rangers core?

March 10, 2018, by
pavel buchnevich chris kreider

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/AP

For those that have been here a while, you know Rangers Fan in Boston from the comments. RFiB emailed me the other day, asking about specific players (Brady Skjei, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad) and if they will be a part of the next Rangers core. I was going to include it in the next mailbag, but it got me thinking. The thoughts have led to this post, independent of the next mailbag.

The next core is very hard to predict. We know more moves are coming. We know that the team is being transitioned to the next group of Blueshirts. However we don’t know who that will include. That’s where the anxiety, and to be honest, some of the fun lies. There’s cautious optimism regarding the next moves to come. However there’s a set of nerves that comes with it, since we like a bunch of guys that may be sent packing.

In regards to the above four, three stand out as probably sticking around for a while. Buch is probably going to be here a while, especially if a new coach comes along. Skjei is another kid who’s going to be here a while. If anything, the fact they are cost controlled means they will be here a while.

Zibanejad is interesting. He’s young (24) and has four more years left on his recently signed deal. It pays him $5.35 million a year for 1C production, which he puts up. Given his age, production, role, and cost, it’s safe to assume he will be here a while.

Kreider is an interesting case. I don’t think he goes anywhere in the immediate future. The team will need guys who have “been there before.” They also need his speed and strength, which are relatively unmatched throughout the NHL. The chemistry with Zibanejad and Buchnevich helps as well. The trio forms a solid top line. With two more years at $4.625 million remaining, I can’t imagine him going anywhere yet.

That said, Kreider is the only guy from this list I can see leaving either next deadline or 2019 draft day. Kreider’s next contract is going to be massive, and like Ryan McDonagh, it’s nothing I want a part of. But I digress.

To answer the immediate question, I think it depends on what you define as the core of the team. Does it mean the next group of guys counted upon as the go-to leadership group? Or does it mean the next wave of youth expected to carry the team? If it’s the former, then perhaps this is the next core of the Rangers. If it’s the latter, then perhaps it means Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, and perhaps Buchnevich and/or Skjei.

We are certainly in a transition period or the Blueshirts. The team has already begun identifying that next group of core Rangers. It’s going to be interesting to see who survives the cut. But perhaps more interesting is how long they last as the core.

"Who will make up the next Rangers core?", 4 out of 5 based on 15 ratings.
Categories : Musings


  1. Emile the Cat says:

    Another question is how Shattenkirk fits in all this. Does he still feel the same way about playing here? I believe he has a limited NMC that increases in the number of teams as each year of his contract passes. And does he hinder the progress of a Gilmour or ADA? The Rangers probably become relevant when his contract is about to expire. Sort of a conundrum, just like Vesey and Hayes as they picked MSG as well and we courted them too. IDK.

    • Walt says:


      I don’t see the progress of the kids mentioned as an issue, I think ADA plays, and Gilmore is our 7th man!!!!

  2. Leatherneck says:

    Gotta know who is coaching to even speculate on the core, I believe one of Spooner, Namestnikov and Skjei are going to be traded draft day.

    Hayes will be around

    I want to see Vesey under a different coach

    Ryan Lindgren I think will earn a spot and letter this team along with Andersson.
    Howden will be interesting to watch

    Obviously the next two drafts are going to be important but I prefer we get more picks for this draft rather than next year.

    Agreed very hard to predict the core right now but good guesses are:
    Shestyorkin, Hajak, zib, Buch, Hayes, Kreider, Namestnikov, Howden, Andersson, Chytil

    real strong
    Georgiev, Gettinger, Ronning, Lindgren, Pionk, DeAngelo,

    could go either way….trade or move into the core
    Skjei, Vesey, Spooner, Gilmour, Shattenkirk,

    Long shot
    Gropp. Tambellini, Virta, Crawley, Perdie, Wall, Halverson.

    5 picks from this years draft will be vying to be a part of the core

    • tanto says:

      You forgot Rykov — the fact that we actually made a trade with the Devils tells me they think this kid is going to be in the core moving forward.

      Can’t understand the thumbs down … it’s not like you said anything “controversial” or nasty. Ugh.

      • Walt says:

        Again, the same old group that don’t care for the man, and will automatically go thumbs down.

        As for the core, really how can we say with any certainty when even the draft hasn’t taken place yet??? This exercise should be conducted after we get to see our picks, and kids traded for, until then, it’s just fun posting!!!!!!

        • tanto says:

          Sure, but I don’t think they “accepted” prospects in any of those trade deadline deals that they didn’t think were core-worthy moving forward —- I mean sure, Pointe or Sergachev would have been ideal (one or the other, impossible to get both), but I’m pretty sure they were targeting Howden and Hajek as well in a deal.

          • Walt says:


            Probably, but you can’t win them all, and based on what I’m reading, we should all be very happy with our return!!!!

            • tanto says:

              You know what, as boring (offensively some would say) as some of those Tort teams were we had an identity. Every night another team knew they were going to be in for a knock down drag out game.

              We were hard to play, they were relentless in the defensive zone and when they had their forecheck going they would grind so-called better teams into the ice; we were warriors with some skill (not elite maybe) …. I’m optimistic that JG is trying to recreate that identity, we just need that one golden child to play with them.

              • Richter1994 says:

                The 2011-12 team was one of my favorite Ranger teams of all time. They were never out of games and never gave up.

                Too bad they just ran out of gas. But they proved, with maximum effort every night with not high talent, that you can still succeed by simply outworking your opponent.

    • CTfan says:

      Skjei is the best player on the team not named Lundqvist right now. Not going anywhere.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Probably not, but for Trouba or another top D man? Yeah, I think the Rangers would do that.

        • James1090 says:

          I look at the Rangers defense and I’m not impressed. Outside of Skjei and Shattenkirk there really isn’t much to be excited about. They need to acquire 1 or 2 more.

          • Richter1994 says:

            They need a total revamping. I would be surprised if they did not get a top D man this offseason.

            Carlson, who is righty, can come for just $$. Book it, Trouba will be available but at what trade cost? If OEL does not sign an extension with the Yutes then he will be available.

            Then you fill in with guys like Gilmour, Pionk, and DeAngelo until Hajek and Lindgren are ready. Watch for Crawley too from Hartford who will get a long look next training camp.

  3. Spike Sandler says:

    One name not mentioned too often is Zuc. He WILL be gone draft time and will NOT be playing for the Rangers next season. Any thoughts as to what or who we may be able to receive for this fan favorite? On another note, this rebuild will be difficult to watch, however I recall when they brought up the “kids” Dubinsky, Girardi, Stahl, Callahan, Stepan, McD..they were fun to watch and easy to root was exciting to watch the team grow into a tight team and contender..hopefully we will have the same experience with the new kids.
    PS: I love the blog. I don’t respond too often, however its a must read every day! Keep up the great work.

    • JoeS. says:

      I agree on every point, especially the value of this blog, except one. I hope the new guys have the same experience plus a CUP! I’m sure you agree!

    • agentsmith says:

      re zuc, honestly, I’m not sure how other teams value him. The assist totals are there but still far from elite territory. As he admits he never was a real goal scorer. and for all the ice time he assumes – still hesitates to shoot too much. Also whether we like it or not there (probably) still is a size bias around the draft and trade markets.

      Bottom line is nyr shouldn’t make the mistake and overplay their hand with him. if they wouldn’t get an equitable offer last month .. who says they do next February? On that note, In the summer may be the best time to trade him as more teams will be involved.

      • Richter1994 says:

        They vale Zuc, but he will be a rental next year so a contender will be the trading partner.

        I can see the Jets, Calgary or Vegas as very possible landing spots. All 3 teams have young trade chips that the Rangers would want.

        • agentsmith says:

          yes… but that was the case a month ago too.

          He just isn’t the type of forward a team will give you a haul for. ]

          Maybe nyr relax their expectations, who knows.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Supposedly there was a deal in place with Calgary for a prospect or 2 since they did not have a #1 pick for this year’s draft.

            But the Rangers were feverishly getting the TB deal done by 3PM so there was not enough time to get the Zuc trade done. I would say Zuc gets dealt at the draft.

            • Agentsmith says:

              I’ve heard the rumors but the logic doesn’t really hold up. Prob not exciting enough to multitask on. Perhaps revisit at draft since Calgary is out a first rounder. Price will be lower tho since only one run

              • Richter1994 says:

                The Rangers were focused on getting the TB deal done. A lot of players and pieces going back and forth so it was complicated, especially up against the deadline.

      • tanto says:

        Let’s not forget that he’s been our leading scorer the last couple of years. Zucc has value, at a minimum he should garner us a 1st rounder plus. I would try hard to move him at the draft for a 1st rounder giving us 4 — then see if trading 3 1st rounders for the #1 is even possible (assuming that we don’t get into the top 5). You never know until you ask. Otherwise stand pat with Zucc and trade him at the deadline next year, he’ll easily get us a first.

        • Agentsmith says:

          Zucc doesn’t have the pedigree of a rick Nash who could barely eek out a first. I think we need to back off from that return expectation. A grabner return is more realistic

          • tanto says:

            Barely eek out a 1st? We got a 1st and Spooner and a 7th and Lindgren. How is that eeking out? You want pedigree? Try 3 out of 4 seasons with 59 or more points, 49 the other year which is a number he will eclipse even in this terribly down year. He’ll get a 1st rounder.

  4. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers have a good group up front and with Chytil Andersson and Howden standing in the wings, I see no need for them to sign any free agent forwards.

    It’s their Blueline that will hold them back. I don’t believe any of their prospects are ready for primetime. Although O’Gara could be slotted as a depth defenseman or perhaps on the 3rd pair. Gilmore and Poink get pushed around too easy and are weak along the boards. Their new defenseman prospects may work out. But we won’t see them until training camp.

    • CTfan says:

      Pionk and Gilmour will be just fine. All they need are bigger partners and a real coach.

    • tanto says:

      Strength issues can almost always be rectified, just like conditioning. You could add DeAngelo to that list, he’s got the feistiness but he needs to get stronger.

  5. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    IDave, thanks for the follow up. This was a topic I had been mulling over since the Great Selloff. Another factor in my question was how long the rebuild would take and if those guys mentioned would last through the process.

    Rebuilding in the NHL doesn’t have to take several years. So the hope is they can develop a secondary core group to complement the existing young group currently on the roster.

    This would be best case scenario however and would require the Rangers to nail their next set of trades as well as hitting in the next couple of drafts.

    I think the possibility exists to build a contender around Skjei, Mika, Pavel (and maybe even Kreider) but a lot has to go right. Hope Gorton is up to the task.

  6. supermaz says:

    If Chytil slots in as a centerman, I don’t see both Hayes and Zibanejad on the team at the start of next season. Just a numbers game as I see it.

    • tanto says:

      Actually I could see a situation where both Chytil (3) and Andersson (4) slot in as centers with Hayes (2) and Zibby (1) … there’s your 1-4, but the 4th line must get 12-13+ minutes a night at least and have Andersson PK, Chytil on the PP.

      • Walt says:


        Your spot on with your post in that we have talent running all four lines. If anyone falters, they move down, while someone playing great moves up. This is called competition within the ranks, good for everyone, especially the fans, to watch!!!!!!

        • tanto says:

          Yeah Walt, if they’re smart they will shelter Chytil some … even Andersson although I think he’ll be given the opportunity to be the shut down C. Let Hayes and Zibby bear the brunt of the load — and I really think Hayes can now, he’s matured quite a bit this year and has produced really well in the shut down role AV has him playing — when he should have been our bona fide #2, but you know AV. I still can’t believe AV pushes DD over Hayes at times.

          Re: Mika, I can’t give up hope. We’ve seen those flashes … the sub-par team play has brought everyone down … plus he needs to stay healthy.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Don’t be surprised if Chytil is shifted to wing, especially his first year to take some responsibility pressure off him his first year.

  7. cthockeyman says:

    Good Note. Cant agree with you though on the Kreider comment. What is massive? He should get paid the year after next but his comps should be somewhere around 6 yrs @ $6-$7MM. Aside from Hank he is the only special player or elite talent on the Rangers. I would argue the team’s drop-off in play commenced when he skated off the ice against Washington back in December. It was very noticeable thereafter how slow this team became. You can see how the left side D backs off when he is on the ice. IMHO this is the guy I would make a commitment to and frankly he should be wearing a letter on his jersey next season.

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Agreed all the way. Kreider’s absence was immediately felt, and the team couldn’t recover without him. Grabner was kind of version 2.0 of Kreider’s game, between the two of them and Nash they were the best counterattackers with speed that NYR had. Also he’s the most physical of all real hockey players in the forward group, and has stood up/dropped the gloves for teammates numerous times over the years.

  8. Mintgecko says:

    How does Zib put up top line production?

    I’m sitting over here thinking that he’s one of those player’s can’t afford to get hurt constantly. His season high in points and goals is 53 points and 21 goals.

    Fans want the KBZ line to be something so much bigger than what it really is. The same goes for Zib, we talk him up to be this center whose comparable to legitimate 1c’s. 18-19 will be a huge season for him and especially if the rebuild moves faster in the right direction than the clock to be a stable 1c should ticking for him.

    • Emile the Cat says:

      Yep…. that’s why the argument for Tavares is so compelling.

      • tanto says:

        Forget about it. Tavares isn’t coming here … why do people insist?!

        • Emile the Cat says:

          I only said the argument was compelling… why the rage kemosabbe?

          • tanto says:

            No rage Francis, rage looks like this: FORGET ABOUT IT! 😉

            I guess I just don’t feel it’s a compelling argument because hell freezing over stands a better chance of happening. It’s just a non-starter for me …

            In 2019 Panarin is a UFA, Seguin as well … both will still be under 27. I think either one of those guys would be interesting fit for our team … and both are right handed shots.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Trouble in Isles’ land. I’m hearing now that Tavares is “demanding” changes from the Isles for him to stay. So now he’s 50/50, either way.

        Does not mean that Tavares comes here but the teams that will be n him big time if he does hit UFA are the Rangers, Habs, and Wings. I do not believe that the Leafs will have the involvement here that people seem to think they will have.

        As I have said, if JT is a FA come July 1, the Rangers will be all in. Whether he actually signs here or not is a different story. Believe it or not, JT has ties with people in Detroit. I don’t know what those connections are, but that’s what I’ve heard.

    • James1090 says:

      I agree Zib is a low end 1st line center. His production is know where near top line. He would be a perfect 2nd line center.

      • Walt says:

        He just may be with the kids coming up next year. Chytil is going to be outstanding, and Zib can slip to 2 to 3C!!!!!

        • tanto says:

          Careful Walt, I think Chytil is going to need a few years before his true level is shown. Hopefully both the fans and management are patient with him.

        • James1090 says:

          I think Chytl starts on wing. The centers will probably be Zib, Vlad, Hayes and Andersson. I think Spooner will also be resigned and placed on wing.

      • CTfan says:

        The gum chomping moron behind the bench may have something to do with that.

    • Walt says:

      Those numbers are somewhat skewed due to his injuries!!!!!!

  9. Mikeyyy says:

    We are and have been missing a true Captain and true HC.

    With the players we have been getting , I am a big believer in having both a coach and captain that are in lock step in terms of attitude and demeanor

    It sets the tone for the team.

    We need a head coach that has Stanley cup experience, knows what it takes to be successful from a heart and ability standpoint in the nhl. And they need to be respected by the players. Same goes for the captain.

  10. Joen7 says:

    I don’t see anyone on the team now as a player to build around. Brady S very big step back. Buch no work effort so far. Krieder not a player to build around nice part the 2nd line on a good tem but no hands. ZIB 5 on 5 shows very little. I’m worried this build will be several years. Maybe no one on the current team comes out the other side.

    • tanto says:

      Wow … jump ship why don’t you. lol

      Maybe you’re right but the fact that virtually every player on this team took a step back this year whether through injury, the coaching staff, themselves, bad chemistry, etc. suggests to me that we need to give out a “pass” for this year. I think next year is the year we evaluate everyone.

      • Jeff says:

        Tanto agree with the reasons you put out. Most people do. The biggest issue about giving this team a pass is it becomes easy…..every year!
        IMHO it starts at the top. Slats should be gone. JG, who I think is the best GM since I’ve been a fan (1970) should have relieved AV of his duties after forgetting that BS and Smith were on his bench. No excuse…not saying it did, but it did help in losing that series. AV failed the team. The team was absent of leadership of the Messier, Toews, Kessler,Callahan,St. Louis types. I know these guys don’t grow on trees but management has got to try, I don’t think they did.
        Relieve AV and staff and let a young new coach come in, please no retreads or names or guys in the mid 50’s. How about Cooper 4.0. by the way where did that no name come from and why don’t we go there?
        Let the new coach see what he has and make his mind up. No one, and I mean no one on the roster should feel safe. Thats what starting anew means….starting anew! If you don’t put out you get put out. I know its a game, but I am tired of spending hard earned money to watch a s–t product.
        I hold the players blameless…they haven’t been coached in years.
        Thank you Blue Seat Blogs for your time and insights.

      • Walt says:

        I’ll go one step further, the team didn’t bust their hump for AV. The world can see, assuming your being objective, that this coach played the favorites, came down on others, while stating at the beginning of the season players will earn their ice time. What a load of bull sh*t!!!!!!

        • tanto says:

          Agreed, something was rotten in the locker room and I don’t think it was McD and Miller … something “broke” last year in the playoffs because there was no reason why we shouldn’t have advanced over Ottawa.

  11. Peter says:

    Skjei, Buchnevich, Zibanejad, and Kreider are all likely to be around a while . Shatty probably will be too. All the rest is to be determined.

    The rebuild is going to take a while—at least three seasons to be a club that might be a solid contender. They are going to be drafting a lot of kids and they will need development time. Most of the team as presently constituted are placeholders for players who will be coming down the line. It’s OK with me because there is no other way to get a real solid core of very talented players in the cap era.

    • Peter says:

      Replying to myself: There is one important factor that I have left out: While I was mostly neutral about AV while they had the former group of players, but critical of his defensive schemes, I absolutely believe he should be replaced as soon as practicable after the current season. They need a new approach with the coming crop of young players. All the coaching staff except Benny needs replacement.

    • JoeS. says:

      You are right! Unfortunately,… because we love to watch the Rangers win! However, I believe you are right, and that saddens me, even though I know it needs to happen.

  12. chrisqct says:

    I don’t think the next Captain is even on the roster yet. I see this whole thing playing out over the next 3-4 seasons. I expect they try to find an older, more emotional captain like Marty St. Loius/Brad Richards to set a new baseline attitude and build the right type of atmosphere here to eventually hand the reins over to the next core of Andersson, Chytil, Shestyorkin, etc. The group here now… like Zib, Hayes, Vesey, and prob Namestnikov, Shattenkirk, and Kreider…. are slowly and carefully moved over these next 3-4 seasons with an eye on that next core and the pieces THEY need for a Cup run.

    A new coaching staff is critical. Both a new coach and captain would clean the slate and you could maybe even shave a season off and be back in good shape in 2-3 seasons. Sprinkle in some good free agent signings here and there and some shrewd trades, and I think we’re back in business before we know it.

    I feel like we’re at that same pivotal point like when we were looking forward to Callahan, Dubinsky, Hank, Step, Kreider, and McDonagh….

  13. Doug Peters says:

    Am not a Buch fan. Another soft NYR draft pick. He is injury- prone, soft on the puck, cluekess on defense. Do not feel he is NHL caliber. Trade him now for more draft picks.

    • craig says:

      I agree on Bush. The beginning of last year, I predicted he was going to be a dud, and everyone jumped on me. He hasn’t adapted to the NHL well at all and has been very inconsistent so far. I would maybe give him another year before I get rid of him.
      Also losing confidence in Vesey. He is another one who lacks the skill to finish a play. At 6′ 3″ he gets banged around way too much and doesn’t put the puck in the net enough. He was a third round draft choice and it is starting to show. He is in his mid twenties and hasn’t really developed that much or proven anything in the NHL like Bush. I think he has been over rated and will be gone next year or the year after also.

  14. Stevesse says:

    As far as the future core, I have been reading that although about 80% of first round picks play NHL hockey, after #10 the numbers drop. Let’s assume that 2017-19 the Rangers have 6(or 7 if TB wins), At least 2 were top ten, maybe 3. If Chytl pans out at #21, they will gain 4 top 6 players. With possible future free agent( they have cap,space) signing, they are not very far from contention. I think they will also keep Kreider,Hayes, Spooner,Namistnakov as fowards. I have been watching Skjei very carefully this year and have noticed major regression. He has the worst hand eye coordination with the puck since Staal. Whiffs consistently. Also, I am not enamoured with Buch. Seems soft and disinterested. Not rhe kind of player you build around.

  15. Czech!!! says:

    I think the next captain of this team will be one of Anderson or Lindgren but it may not be for another year or more. They need to not put any pressure on any of these kids by handing them the captaincy.

  16. agentsmith says:

    whatever the correct answer to this question is….. it better an include an elite young talent. is it chytil or someone else?

  17. Richter1994 says:

    Staying: King, Zib, Kreider, Buch, Fast, Chytil, Andersson, Shatty (they didn’t sign him to trade him)

    Traded, only if it makes obvious sense, but likely to stay: Hayes, Skjei, Spooner, Namer.

    50/50, depends on acquisitions: Vesey, DeAngelo, Gilmour, Pionk, O’Gara

    Traded: Zuc

    Buyout candidates: Staal (if not traded), Smith (if not traded)

    Irrelevant: DD, McLeod, Holland, Pavelec

    Depends on Shesty situation: Georgiev

  18. Tony says:

    Hi all,

    If the Rangers can get Trouba, they are slightly better. Then, try one of these things. Trade for or sign Karlsson or if that doesn’t work out trade for Oliver-Ekman Larsson. Staal-gone Smith-gone. Does anyone know any recent or somewhat recent cup winners that will be UFA? Figure start on def and then look forward to get some players. Also, if Desharanis is traded and Zucc (sorry spelling) what about Oilers player Tyler Nugent Hopkins.

    Most importantly, AV gone, Rangers would be stupid not to sign Joel Quennville as the new head coach. That can attract UFA to come to New York and play for Coach Q. Tyler Nugent Hopkins, Jacob Trouba or Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Rangers can turn things around.

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but Hopkins is an “A” captain and Trouba is “A” alternate captain as well. Just saying I don’t think Tavares would sign with us, so those players bring leadership. Let the rookies run wild these upcoming training camp, LOL!! If its done correctly Rangers can be in the playoffs next season and maybe contend 2-3 years from now.

    What you guys think, can Gorton be trusted can he deliver? I would assume he saw Sather’s disaster trades and signings. Rangers have to sign players 25 yrs old to 5-8 contract, reasonable priced contracts, players we can make part of the core. Rangers can finally afford to sign a player in his prime, not in the twilight of his career.

Leave a Reply