The Rangers are going to play their 30th game tonight in Tampa Bay. We’ve seen enough of this team to know what they are. Or what they aren’t, and that is a playoff team. But that’s not to worry, we knew that was going to happen. We knew the blue line would likely be a mess. We knew the Rangers would be adjusting to a new system.
But those are all the negatives of a rebuild season. We knew it would be like this. Not everything needs to be negative though. There are still plenty of positive takeaways from the first two months of the season.
- Opening with the obvious: Henrik Lundqvist is still an elite goaltender. I lead with this because he is with the club for better or for worse, and as long as he’s elite, the Rangers will always stand a chance to win.
- Heading into the start of the season, there were tons of questions about whether Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider could be top line players. Both have been producing at those levels. Both have proven they can be top line players. They aren’t elite level talent, but they are both great talents.
- Tony DeAngelo has been a pleasant surprise this season. I, along with many others, did not expect him to be anything more than a powerplay specialist. He’s struggled at times, as has every young player in the history of the game, but he’s been pretty good overall. Maybe he put it all together. Maybe he realized this was his last chance (third team). It’s a win for the Rangers though.
- Marc Staal may not be worth his contract. That we know. But this year, Staal has been, dare I say, somewhat decent and reliable. He’s had some absolute clunkers, but overall he’s been one of the better defensemen. Granted, the bar isn’t set that high, but hey, it’s a positive, right?
- Jimmy Vesey has taken a lot of criticism in the past, but he has had a pretty good start to the year as well. Perhaps he’s another one that has put it all together as well. Whatever it is, he’s on pace for 20 goals.
- Kevin Hayes has shown he’s worth keeping around, assuming they can get a deal done. He’s going to command a decent amount of money, so perhaps trading him is in the best interest of the club going forward. So keep boosting that trade value.
- Speaking of trade value, the Rangers are being extra cautious with Mats Zuccarello, and with good reason. His trade value isn’t going to be hurt by his extended injury. As long as he gets back in the lineup and plays until the deadline, he’s going to fetch a decent amount as well.
- Henrik Lundqvist. Still elite.