The future is bright

The Rangers just drafted a near-complete-at-18 prospect, on top of several other low-key steals across every key spot on the depth chart, and have a brain trust unlike most others captaining the ship. Even as recent as the last few months, the Rangers’s collective fan base, across all demographics and ideological persuasions, there was a heavy fog of anxiety in the air. What if everything isn’t what it seems? What none of it actually comes together just how it needs to? What if we’re really just teetering on the brink? Well we’re not, as it happens, at least not in the way it might have seemed in the not-so-distant past.

Let’s start with Kaapo Kakko. After literal decades of not drafting a truly game-breaking prospect (at least not a skater, because Hank was arguably the steal of the last decade, more or less, having gone past 200), we’ve got our man. Pencil him in for the Calder conversation next season, and maybe even a certain points through the season the favorite, in addition to just a plain-and-simple excellent season. He’ll be in the top six, playing alongside some combination of Mika Zibanjed, Vitali Kravtsov, Artemi Panarin, Pavel Buchnevich, and potentially Chris Kreider. Not such bad a bad group. They’ll be getting outlet passes from, within the next two years, a group consisting of Jacob Trouba, Libor Hajek, Brady Skjei, Tony DeAngelo, and possibly down the road K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, and Yegor Rykov (don’t doubt that the front office knows they need to fix the blueline at this point, and they will). Plug and play with some cheap bottom-six free agents, turn them into Dom Moore or Michael Grabner and ride the wave. Seems even better when you factor in those three guys sharing duties between the goalposts.

Leading this whole expedition are three, and maybe four, excellent hockey minds, each bringing their own broad skill sets to the fancy hallway up at the top of Penn Plaza. Jeff Gorton, he of the rapidly-accelerating, dynastic Bruins rebuild (people who doubted his role in that endeavor are stunningly silent right now), has proven himself capable as a relatively unseasoned GM of staring down a point-per-game UFA who did everything he could to inflate his asking price.

The rumors flew around in at a whirlwind pace that had most fans struggling to keep up (i found myself refreshing Twitter far more than I should have at work) and he allegedly turned down an 8-year, $14m deal with Columbus at one point. The Islanders became front-runners and then suddenly, with few leaks, the Rangers sealed the deal. Of course it helps when your backup is John Davidson, a widely respected and broadly likable figure with a special place in our hearts already, and Glen Sather himself. Say what you will about the latter elder statesman (I recall the days of “Fire Sather” and it was not a good time), he’s a legend in hockey for better or for worse, and it helps when he’s got your back in any negotiation scenario. If you’re a GM on the other end of the phone with those three on speaker, the combined acumen and leverage they already carry is going to have you giving up, for example, a 25-year-old top-pairing defenseman who’s ready to sign a 7-year, for two college free agent signings who built their (depending on your perspective, deserved or undeserved) high profiles on the Garden ice.

Speaking of the Garden ice, who’s running this show anyways? A fresh face? A guy who motivated a talented team through a losing, fire-sale season, with high morale and standout individual performances? Someone who teaches players how to give 110% in whatever way they do best? Ah yes, David Quinn. A breath of fresh air who teaches hard-hitting-yet-possession-based hockey, knowing that physicality goes hand in hand with skill, and that talent and work ethic aren’t mutually exclusive. A self-aware thinking man’s coach who also resonates well across the board with fans who just want, one way or another, for the team to play like they care. That’s a winning coach right there, and we should be happy to have him, detractors be damned. He’s going to be here a long time, and that approval rating is only going to go up.

None of this is to say anything is a given. There are no guarantees in this league, no certainty involved in a record breaking team with three 40-goal scorers, a perennial Norris contender, and an already established, young net-minder getting swept in the first round. We forget easily in the afterglow of the draft lottery and ultimate induction of Kaapo Kakko into the Rangers family, but at the turn of the last new year, St Louis was well in the Hughes/Kakko zone, alongside everybody’s favorite LA Kings. This doesn’t mean things will necessarily click immediately, but look for the Rangers to be in the mix for the very long term, and likely sooner than later. We’re not teetering on the brink of anything right now except a dynasty. Whether or not we get there is a different story, and something I’m certainly not qualified to speak on, but this overnight paradigm shift is something special, and we haven’t even gotten started.

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  • Pat – you said it all:. Our future is bright. Will we get to the promised land? Who knows. That will require additional great moves, and good luck. But it is a great time to be a Ranger fan. Why? Because OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT! Can’t wait for the season to start.

  • I compare this “process” to the movie “The Fugitive” and I am paraphrasing, “we have not solved the case, but we just found a big piece.”

    I mean, in one offseason, the Rangers are adding Panarin, Trouba, Kakko, Krav, Fox, Shesty, Rykov, and a full year of Hajek. On paper, that’s “wow!!” The Ranger “process” is not close to a finished product, but man did they find a big piece.

    I cannot remember being this excited for the coming season. If nothing else, it should be fun to watch.

  • Many pieces in place as building blocks. Good prospects, strong leadership and some studs. We can be special, but let’s see how everything will takes shape. Team needs to play together and learn together. DQ seems to be the right person for the job.

    Let’s get the players signed and get the Cap in a good spot. Going to be fun

  • ” We’re not teetering on the brink of anything right now except a dynasty.”

    Just think back how we did business for so long, and now the way we conduct ourselves. It’s like day, and night. We went the route of getting young, drafted well, traded even better, signed a young free agent, given it’s a huge contract, but he could make a difference from day one. What’s not to like about this scenario, nothing…..

    As a team we will compete with just about anyone, but it’s still too early to claim the cup. I suspect that in two, or three years, we will be kicking tail, and should be a destination where all kinds of players want to go to in order to win a cup. I may be dreaming, but I’m looking at JG as a potential Sam Pollok of old. Just look at what he accomplished with Montreal!!!!!


    Tony, and Spozo, get off of my lawn. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!

    Hoping that these guys fulfill their potential. Proper tutelage and guidance combined with a strong effort should propel us forward. Hoping that the defense comes together to play better than this past year. Future of goaltending seems bright, although the Hank of last year needs to be better. No reason this team cannot get 82 – 88 points this coming year.

  • Nikita Gusev, a RFA, is available for trade, it would probably take 4mil/2yrs to sign him.

    • Where’s that cap space coming from? Rangers already need to shed ~$8M in cap space to be compliant. That’s going to be hard enough as it is.

      • Trade away Strome, Names, DeAngelo…buy out contracts of Shattenkirk and Smith, worst case NYR will have to trade CK for draft picks, unless you want to give CK a contact, at least 7X7, starting next year when CK is going to be 29. Nikita Gusev who is 27 is a very talented and skilled player, only cost NYR 2 mil per for next 2 years if NYR trade for him.

          • The part beyond the need to trade 2 players (3 at most) — and why you would want to trade DeAngelo is beyond me. He costs nothing and he doesn’t even have arb. rights. It’s the $4m+++ players that need to be moved.

            Also I doubt Gusev signs a 2 x 2 contract, probably more like 2 x 3-4 … and with Vegas already over the salary cap I have a feeling they’ll also try to tie in some cap relief. Just saying. ?

          • I don’t get you and others’ fascination about DeAngelo, just because he put up some points in some meaningless games last season, he is still a terrible Dman when it comes to defense. He doesn’t know his position in the Dzone, he is terrible when it comes to pass the puck out of the zone, bad checker, always plays defense in an erratic way, DeAngelo would be a disaster waiting to be happen in the playoffs and right now it’s best time to trade him. Haven’t you guys think about why NYR traded, overpaid, for Adam Fox if they think highly of DeAngelo?

          • He’s not terrible on d’, not in the least. Zone entry play could be better, then again the whole team back on d’ was bad in that regard … and he’s the exact opposite of “terrible when it comes to pass the puck out of the zone, bad checker” …

            They paid what they paid to get Fox before he hit free agency and to advance the rebuild …

  • The NYR should trade for Nikita Gusev, it wouldn’t cost NYR an arm and a leg to get him, at most a 3rd round draft pick. (I personally think Gordon overpaid for Adam Fox, I wonder if Fox trade would’ve happen if NYR get Trouba first.)

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