The Rangers had a pretty quiet offseason. There were no major trades. No major signings. The Blueshirts did their internal business, they re-signed all their key RFAs as their big-ticket items. The roster is more or less set for now. As we enter August, there may not be much left for the Rangers to do.
1. The biggest thing the Rangers are likely waiting on is the Erik Karlsson trade. He was being traded, then he was traded, now he’s not traded at all. Teams are hoarding their resources for that trade, and any deal involving Ryan Spooner, Vlad Namestnikov, and/or Kevin Hayes will likely wait until Karlsson is traded.
2. The blue line for the Rangers is still a bit of a mess, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Gorton addresses this before the season starts. That could be clearing room for some additional kids, or making a big splash to get an established young player. The Rangers are pretty good at keeping their cards hidden, so you never know what their plans are.
3. However, as it stands today, the Rangers don’t need to make a trade. The blue line is a concern, but a more structured system could bring out better seasons from Brady Skjei, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith. A healthy Kevin Shattenkirk helps things out. After that, it’s a big year for Tony DeAngelo, and I’m assuming Neal Pionk gets the last spot.
4. The forward group is the big reason why the Rangers likely don’t need to make a trade yet. The Blueshirts have the ability to begin the year with Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in non-critical roles to ease them into the lineup. As they progress and earn more time, the lines can be shuffled around. No need to throw them into top-six roles if they aren’t ready.
5. The Rangers also have two of the more valuable trade chips this season and this trade deadline in Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. Both are top-six forwards on affordable contracts. If the season goes south quickly, but can fetch first rounders and more. That will be an interesting story to watch, but brings me to the next point.
6. I’m putting this out there: The Rangers have an outside shot at sneaking into the playoffs. The forwards and Henrik Lundqvist can carry the team, the way they have the past five years. If a more structured defensive system has the same impact we are all expecting, then this team could sneak into the playoffs. I don’t think they will –I think they will top out around 80 points– but it’s doable.
7. With point #6 said, I also want state that the front office should not be blinded by the playoffs, and begin buying to increase their chances. The whole point of the rebuild is to retain their assets, not sell them off for the #8 seed."So what's next for Rangers?",