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Thoughts on temporary NHL realignment for next season

The NHL is considering temporary realignment for the 2021 season. This makes sense, as the travel restrictions coming with COVID-19 are going to impact the league. The NHL is the only league where international travel is a significant concern (Canada). Until the US gets its collective acts together and has federal and state guidelines to follow, then a normal regular season won’t be possible.

1. The realignment, according to Greg Wyshynski, would have four divisions: Canada, East, Central, and West. Obviously the Canadian Division is to limit international travel. It’s not ideal, but it at least gives us some hockey. The rest of the divisions are based on US Geography.

2. The Rangers would play in the East with Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, New Jersey, the Islanders, Philly, and Washington. This is basically the Northeast corridor, plus Carolina and Buffalo. Most travel can be done via train or bus. The idea is to limit cross country travel, and the East was the gimme there.

3. Absent are Pittsburgh and Columbus, which is interesting. They’d be in the Central Division with Florida, Tampa, Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and St. Louis. The new realignment means being creative, and that means no Crosby and no Tortorella. But it works, and again limits travel to the best of their ability.

4. The West has the most travel with Dallas, LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Colorado, Vegas, Arizona, and Minnesota. It’s odd, but I guess those are the leftover teams –specifically Minnesota and Dallas– once you have the other divisions. Temporary realignment wasn’t ideal for the NHL, but it is what it is.

5. Back to the Rangers – that division is a bloodbath. The Rangers are a flawed team, that we know. But they are also a skilled team that, with their talent and goaltending, could surprise a few people. The only teams they are 100% better than are Buffalo and probably the Devils. That puts them in 6th place in the division, not good enough.

6. For the Rangers to sneak into the playoffs, they need Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin to repeat their career years from last season. They also need elite level goaltending from Igor Shesterkin. On top of that, which isn’t an easy ask, they need major steps forward from their kids. It’s certainly possible, but that is the absolute ceiling of ceilings for them. Everything needs to click for that scenario.

7. The more realistic scenario is a grey area between the worst case (nothing happens) and the best case (everything happens). I’d put the Rangers at 4th-5th in the division, with a few kids taking a step forward, but Mika and Panarin unable to recreate ridiculous seasons. I mean, they will still put up great numbers, but maybe fall short of 50 goals/100 points, respectively.

8. Regarding #6 and #7, that’s fine! The goal is to develop this year. The first *true* competing year is 2021-2022. That’s why the Rangers mostly moved sideways this year. They need the kids to take the next step. The entire rebuild is predicated on the kids developing. We wanted the kids to get the playing time. They are about to.

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  • I’m not thrilled to see the Boston Bruins a lot more now… NYR won’t have the depth to beat those kinds of teams. I say this especially in a mini regular season series or in the playoffs.

    Buffalo always starts out as a top 3 team and now they added Hall.. Add in E Staal, now you have another team with a legit 1-2 punch down their middle.

    Washington is like Philly imo, they will show up to play against the NYR… All thanks to their ex Rangers (Hayes, AV and now Hank).. Expect to see 2012-15 Hank in net and 2010 version Ovi.

  • “The Rangers would play in the East with Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, New Jersey, the Islanders, Philly, and Washington.”

    I look at the brighter side of things. We can compete with these teams really. Let’s start with the Caps. They are long of tooth, and made no moves to get younger. This team is getting ready to have a major downfall soon.

    Boston is led by Bergeron, who is some 37(?) years of age, really how many more good years are left in him? They also lost their leader, and captain Charra. What will be the reaction to Tuukka Rask’s leaving the team during the PO’s be? There could be trouble in paradise!

    The Fishsticks are in a cap hell hole, and are trying to move players, such as Anders Lee, rumored to be on the block, in order to resign Matt Barzal. They are also getting long of tooth with guys like Boychuk, Leddy, Ladd, Clutterbuck and Nelson. They aren’t as deep as one would think.

    The Devils will stink to high heaven again. They also are trying to move PK Subban, Travis Zajak is 35, and not getting younger. Bottom line, they will be cellar dwellers again.

    Buffalo may well be the surprise team this season. They made some moves that should help, and they are due for a season where they don’t completely collapse again.

    Filthadelphia won’t repeat last season. Everyone knows AV’s history. He comes in and makes a big splash, then slowly, but surely his teams start to play poorer, and poorer as time goes by. Theis heart and soul guys such as Giroux, and Voracek are getting old as well, and they aren’t the players they were just a few years ago. They could well be a middle of the road team, it wouldn’t catch me off guard if they are.

    Carolina should be the toughest team in the division, and should take it all. They are young, big, and play team defense well. Their top two lines are damn good, and should improve from last season.

    Let’s face it, we should be a young team with growing pains, but we will be entertaining just the same, and as long as they play next season, I could care less what the division looks like. LGR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Is this the same Boston team with the best line in hockey? Superior center and bottom 9 depth? Bergeron who had a injured riddled season and still managed to put up a 56 point season with a +23 as a shutdown center. I don’t know what you’re smoking, his age isn’t in anyone’s discussion who follows hockey. He put up 30+ goals last year….. CK can’t even do that in his prime skating next to player’s like Zib and Panarin.

      You’re tagging along on the Isle clickbait article’s? Nice but everyone knows that Lee isn’t going away on a cap dump trade. Isle have superior team defence and center depth. One is a top 10 center.. The other one’s are stuff that the Rangers don’t have.. Solid 2c and top tier bottom 6 center’s.

      Ask Nucs fans about AV.. It takes a perfect combination for his philosophy to work on a team(A la the first of the 2017 season when the Rangers were a high scoring 4 line team). Philly roster is made for him… They will most likely run the division for this decade… We still don’t even know how they look at full strength.

      NJD will be running things by the time the mid 2020s roll on by… They have a Bergeron and P Kane lite as their top 6 center’s..

      • NotsoAvery

        Opinions are like ass holes, and your talking thru your’s with the carp what am I smoking.

        Believe what the hell you want, and I’ll believe what I want. I didn’t put you down, and do yourself a favor, don’t put me down schmuck!!!!!!!!1

        • “don’t put me down schmuck!!!!!!!!1”

          What are you talking about? I don’t think a disagreement stands for putting people down… Your whole review on the divisional rivals were polar opposite from the truth… I said it like it was and you responded with how you like to smoke Carp.. Let it go…. I wouldn’t even consider that as a tic for tac.

          I didn’t even bother touching with how wrong you were about Washington’s future… They may be on the decline in some ways but Kutz is still a elite and young.. Backstrom is still a underrated elite shutdown center who pots 55+ points. Ovi is still a 40+ goal scorer… Ellar and Oshie continue to contribute on many levels for them.. 110% they will have a chance to win the cup within the next 2-3 years.

  • Walt nice assessment couldn’t agree with you more. Can’t wait to see team play this year and watch the growth of the young guns. I don’t have high expectations for this year but do expect Rangers will be competitive – 20-21 season is all about 21-22.

  • Favorites in this division have to be Boston, Philadelphia, Carolina and the Rangers. The islanders do pose a threat however. Of course, I’m still picking the Rangers to win it all.

  • They don’t have anything to fear or envy with the other teams in their proposed division. Middle of the pack is a reasonable expectation, top 2 or 3 a worthy and achievable goal. Comes down to whether the offense can repeat or exceed their overall prowess from last season and whether a full year of Shesterkin results in the quality of play we witnessed in the 2nd half of last season. I say it almost qualifies as a probability.

  • For me I would love to see a lot of Boston again. I’m 66 years old and remember when we played each other 14 times a year with back to backs. The dislike was intense back then. It’ll be nice to hate the Bruins again! LOL

    • Yep… original 6 redux! It’s awesome! How can anyone not love this? Playing teams that we absolutely love to beat and sitting on the edge of your seat with each save, goal, check, scrum and tussle.

      And I believe that in the end these division rivals are going to hate facing this young Ranger team. Can’t wait!

    • One of my elementary school teachers, Sister Mary Fallon (an Irish Catholic Nun from Bahstan? Never!), would bet us kids every time the Rangers played Boston in the playoffs. Needless to say back then we lost a few more than we won.

  • I like this realignment. The games will be intense and the rivalry games will be super intense and simulate playoff hockey. I think the Rangers are being under appropriated for what they could do this year.

    Better Chytil, Kakko, Lafreniere , Fox. Lindgren and improved play from Trouba and hopefully Gauthier takes the next step in his development and the Rangers will surprise many people .

    • You can’t just put the word “better” in front of a player to make a point….

      It’s sport’s code: You show up better due to practice, practice and more practice.. Chytil’s God given gifts won’t take him to heights where a group like Kakko, Laffy and Fox can go in a short period of time… There’s a reason why two of those name’s were top draft picks…. This dude needs to practice good habits with and without the puck.. Lol another year doesn’t make you better and wiser without the work… This ain’t EA sport’s bro…

  • As others have clearly stated and I will repeat. The one thing I first thought of, and loved, when this realignment was first being discussed a couple of months ago was the fact that the Rangers will play their rivalries so much more than the regular format. I hate the new NHL schedule, it sucks, and rivalries are barely there. I mean playing the Devs, Isles, and Philly 3 times a year is….well, Stupid. All because the west coast punks cried because Crosby never came to their town. Funny I don’t remember them crying, nor the east coasters for that fact, when Gretsky played out west and we saw him once every 3 years. I prefer the rivalries. If I want to watch superstars on the west coast, I’ll watch on TV. I can’t wait for this season to start, it will be so much fun. Will the Rangers win? probably not, but I always think they will win. Its why we play and watch the games, because you never know.

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