Let’s open with one tweet:
– a true No. 1 center
– a bonafide superstar
– young players making leaps
– a top-2 pick contributing
– young goalies playing well
– more high-end prospects on the way
If you ain’t excited now, i don’t think you’ll ever be
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) November 30, 2019
Fitz here, who has apparently retired from making gifs, has hit the nail on the head, and it is something that is often lost around here and throughout casual discussions about the Rangers. Breaking down who Fitz was referring to:
- True #1 center – Mika Zibanejad
- Bonafide superstart – Artemi Panarin
- Young players making leaps – Tony DeAngelo, Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, Filip Chytil, Adam Fox
- Top-2 pick – Kaapo Kakko
- Young goalies playing well – Alex Georgiev, Igor Shesterkin
- High-end prospects – Vitali Kravtsov, Nils Lundkvist, K’Andre Miller
The fun thing here is this doesn’t include the kids currently with Hartford that are either expected to make the Rangers or fight for a spot: Lias Andersson, Joey Keane, Tarmo Reunanen, and Adam Huska.
And the funner thing is that doesn’t even include the non-AHL players: Call Sjalin, Morgan Barron, and basically the entire 2019 draft class, which the Rangers nailed.
Not all of these guys are going to be Rangers. Some will be busts. Some will be included in trades. Roster players may be moved to make room for some of these kids, sure. That’s expected in a cap era. But to think that the Rangers may actually need to make a decision between DeAngelo and Lundkvist is both fascinating and promising. The fact that Shesterkin may force a Georgiev trade sooner rather than later fits in this same boat.
We harp a lot on the defensive system, and for good reason. It’s maddening to watch some great offensive numbers and talents not hit potential because they spend so much time in their own zone. Eventually the question regarding Lindy Ruff, David Quinn, and whether they are the coaches for the next step in the rebuild –actually competing– will need to be addressed.
For now, we know this is a rollercoaster ride of a season. The 9-4-2 November certainly gives us the rose colored glasses for a brief moment. The offense is clicking, albeit incredibly top heavy. The kids are progressing and should, in theory, be able to replace any departing veterans from that top-six. There’s skilled depth in the pipeline to fill in the holes.
Is it perfect? Far from it. I’m basically ignoring defensive stats on the Rangers because the system is so FUBAR’d that you can’t actually discern if it’s the player or the system. Those are the drops in the roller coaster ride. But for all those drops, the coaster keeps climbing. They can still screw this up by rushing it, but I’m cautiously optimistic they can pull this off.