Vitali Kravtsov in the Rangers top 6? It could happen.

The Rangers have had one heck of an offseason so far. Even before they added Jacob Trouba, Kaapo Kakko, and Artemi Panarin, they signed Vitali Kravtsov, Yegov Rykov, and Igor Shesterkin, then traded for Adam Fox. It’s been a summer of fun so far for the Blueshirts.

It’s been so fun, in fact, that a good portion of us –myself included– have been talking ourselves into the fact the Rangers could be a playoff team and possibly surprise people. This isn’t necessarily reckless, as the Metro Division is imploding on itself, as only the Canes, Rangers, and Devils are trending up. The Caps/Penguins are aging. The Isles are likely not getting the same goaltending as last year, thus a giant question mark. And the Flyers have AV. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row of teams anymore.

Add that to the infusion of youth and skill to the Blueshirts’ lineup, and you have some lofty hype. But the Rangers are still banking on significant development and progression from Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, and Brett Howden, currently their 2C, 3C, and 4C, respectively. That’s a tall order for three kids that had their own struggles at times last year.

I know these things aren’t accurate right now because we don’t know what Kakko and Kravtsov will turn into. So they are replacement level players, and let’s be real there’s a solid chance one (Kravtsov) might not even start the year in the NHL. Plus here, look at theblue line, it’s missing Marc Staal and has Kevin Shattenkirk, so that’s not likely to happen either. Yet this team is still just an 81 point team based on projections.

If you assume that the Rangers won’t have the lineup above, and will have other people on the blue line, the point projection goes down.

This is something Kevin from Blueshirt Banter ran with before Sean Tierney ran with his updated model. This has the Rangers with a more realistic blue line –Adam Fox is the replacement player here– and a 71 point projection. Of course this is missing Libor Hajek, who himself is a question mark.

These models, this early into July, are not meant to be 100% accurate. Especially for a rebuilding team like the Rangers that has so many unknowns coming into the lineup next year. What I take from these is –and Sean is one of the best in the business with these models and someone whose work I use regularly– that the Rangers’ success next year is a giant IF statement. A lot needs to go right for them to make the playoffs next year. Heck, they may be a bottom-five team again.

The point of this isn’t necessarily to say the Rangers are making the playoffs or they are going to be a lottery team. It’s that they are trending up, but up may not be immediate. It’s a climb. The urge to win a Cup with Henrik Lundqvist in net is clearly there, but timing may not work out like that. You can’t rush development, and while the newly added skill is exciting, hockey is the ultimate team game that requires other players in a rebuild to develop as well.

The one thing we know for sure is that the Rangers are going to be an exciting offensive team next season.

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