Over the course of the summer there’s a very good chance a substantial amount of experience will be leaving the Rangers. This could leave the Rangers with a veteran/leadership void and despite the Rangers admirably going down the youth path (obviously the right course of action long term) they must be wary of leaving the club too ‘green’ in the short term. This could mean some unpopular decisions on roster places and players.
Even daring to assume the Rangers acquire Brad Richards (obviously possessing a ton of experience) there’s a very good chance an abundance of NHL games worth of experience will leave the club. Vinny Prospal seems a prime candidate to leave given his age and recent injury, Sean Avery’s position is becoming increasingly unclear – as is Chris Drury’s – while Bryan McCabe is on an expiring contract and it is unknown how much he will cost to keep and whether that’s a route the management want to go. Then there is the solid foot soldier Ruslan Fedotenko who was a good, cheap veteran addition but hasn’t been the same since his initial injury; Fedotenko is also on an expiring deal. Without even considering the ‘merits’ and future of players like Erik Christensen the Rangers stand to be much younger in the summer. Or do they?
Everyone assumes Ryan Callahan will be the next Rangers captain and that is likely true but there’s every chance Chris Drury remains (unless he makes the choice to retire) because of the potential experience void – likely to occur – so Callahan’s coronation may have to wait. Chris Drury is no longer a top six forward, he may not even have enough left in the tank to be a full time NHL player but his respect in the dressing room and link between management and team is unquestioned. This may allow him his final season on Broadway – much to the annoyance of 95% of the Rangers following.
The kids are indeed growing up; Dubinsky, Staal, Girardi and Callahan all have solid experience to call upon but the defense remains very green and the forward ranks promises to be almost as young. Will this youthful look force the Rangers to keep an unpopular (older) player or two? Will they bring in veterans to assist, like they did this year? That is something that may concern some Rangers fans. The Rangers are obviously keen to keep going with the youth movement but it needs to be tempered to a degree. Players, considered unthinkable to remain in NY may still be here next year, if for nothing else but the chemistry and experience they provide. It may not be popular but it may be necessary.