1. This offseason has been an interesting one for the Rangers. They addressed their defensive needs, to the point where they created a logjam on the bottom pair. Assuming Anthony DeAngelo is guaranteed a spot, then the Rangers are fine with Neal Pionk and Alexei Bereglazov starting in the AHL. That’s perfectly fine. But are they ok with Nick Holden or Marc Staal as the 7D? That’s a lot of money to have on the bench.
2. In addressing their defensive needs, the Rangers created a huge hole at center. Instead of letting Mika Zibanejad grow into the 1C role and Kevin Hayes into the 2C role, they are forcing each into those roles. It may work. It may not. But it’s still curious to say the least.
3. Speaking of forwards, something has to give, right? Matt Puempel is slated to start as the 12F, assuming neither Filip Chytil (unlikely) nor Lias Andersson (possible) make the team. I honestly think the club is penciling the Swede into the lineup on opening night. He has shown he belongs in the SHL, but to expect him to not need time in the AHL is something.
4. Even if one of the first rounders makes the club, there is very little injury depth. Perhaps they are waiting on waivers from Vegas? Or perhaps they look to address the logjam by dangling Holden for a 3C? I just get the feeling they aren’t done yet.
5. I still expect Zibanejad to sign a 4-5 year deal worth $5 million a year, give or take. That leaves the club with $3 million in cap space to address that center issue. It becomes more if they trade Holden to address the issue. An even more unlikely scenario: A buyout of Marc Staal in the second buyout window, which opens the day after Zibanejad reaches a deal, and lasts for three days. Unlikely, but a scenario nonetheless.
6. I find it humorous that the two positions fans are most worried about are center and goalie. These are the same people that, at least from the folks I recognize in my mentions, advocated for trading both Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan. You got your wish.
7. I’m going out on a limb here. If the Rangers can add a 2C, I think they have a legitimate shot at winning the division and coming out of the conference in May. Pittsburgh and Washington got weaker. As did Montreal and Ottawa. Tampa is still a wild card though. With a 2C in the fold, the Rangers –on paper– have one of the strongest teams in the conference.