Ten thoughts ahead of the New York Rangers’ preseason
The preseason is almost upon us, which means it’s back to writing time. Somehow the New York Rangers managed to have a wildly inactive offseason following the rollercoaster end to the season. While I’m not complaining, it does lead to more questions than answers. That can be frustrating as a fan, but as a writer, it’s the good stuff. Rather than hit you with a 200 word intro just for the sake of doing so, let’s go straight into my thoughts ahead of the Rangers preseason.
1. I’ve noticed a lot of doomsdayers on Twitter (which, like, duh) about the Rangers. While I can understand the frustration about the Rangers’ offseason, acting like their future isn’t promising is….odd at best. Let’s take a step back here and be rational. The Rangers have recent #1 and #2 overall picks. They have a bevy of widely renowned defensive prospects. They have a phenomenal young goaltender. That’s not to mention a perennial MVP candidate who’s still in his prime. And oh, did I mention the Norris Trophy winner in his second year in the NHL?
2. I believe where people are coming from is that the Rangers’ offseason was spent answering the Tom Wilson problem. While I do believe there is some merit to that opinion, I do not believe it’s the entire truth. Ever since Jesper Fast left, the Rangers have been begging for a winger like him. Enter Barclay Goodrow.
The Rangers determined Pavel Buchnevich wasn’t worth his projected contract (dumb, but that’s their determination), exit Pavel Buchnevich. Sammy Blais is a nobody.
You can fault the Rangers for their process, but you must also acknowledge just how many pieces the Rangers have. The future is bright.
3. I still can’t help but think another move is coming. Currently the Rangers have Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov penciled in for 1RW and 2RW. For a team looking to make the playoffs, that’s a major risk. I understand the team wants to develop their youngsters and am all for it. But there’s zero margin for error, which puts a ton of pressure on both forwards. Additionally, if either gets hurt, the Rangers are in a world of trouble.
4. A few years ago, the New York Islanders traded for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk just a few days before the regular season. I’m keeping my eye on that possibility for the Rangers. One name I’d love for the Rangers to explore is Reilly Smith. He’s on an expiring contract, so the Rangers could conceivably play him in the top nine for a year, let Kakko and Kravtsov develop in the top nine, then see where everyone’s at at the end of the season. It’s my ideal plan.
If not Reilly Smith, I still do wonder about the future of Ryan Strome, and the current top nine. I can’t shake the feeling the Rangers will want to bump Kravtsov to the third line and get a 2RW.
5. I don’t mind the Goodrow contract. Brandon Tanev’s contract was not only moved this offseason, but it was taken at full price. Pretty much every contract is movable, so I’m not buying into the albatross claims. I’d rather pay Goodrow under $4M a year for six years than over $4M a year for four years. I also think he will hold up and he’s a fantastic addition to the bottom six. We’re arguing over thousands of dollars here, not millions.
6. I want it on the record that I believe Nils Lundkvist’s ceiling is Adam Fox. I think he’s that good.
7. For the Rangers to make the playoffs, they will need to finish ahead of at least three of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals.
Let’s say that the Rangers will finish ahead of Columbus and New Jersey to simplify things. (If they don’t, this season is a failure.)
That leave the Hurricanes, Islanders, Flyers, Penguins, and Capitals. For the Rangers to make the playoffs, they need to finish ahead of at least one of them.
Carolina and the Islander seem poised to finish in the top two in the division. Washington makes the playoffs every year regardless of what happens.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh need to be the targets. Pittsburgh will be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to start the season, while Philadelphia features a ton of new parts which will take some time to develop chemistry.
8. With that, it’s crucial that the Rangers get off to a hot start this season. Bank up the points while the Flyers and Penguins figure things out. Yes, the Rangers have a new coach, but after the rocky season last year, there are no excuses this year.
9. As I say before every season, I’d like to see Chris Kreider on the penalty kill. His speed on the PK? Oof. *Chef’s kiss*
10. In the comments, I’d love to see what kind of content you’re looking for this season. Thoughts posts? Analysis on specific players/games? Mailbags? You name it, I’ll consider it. Planning on writing a bit more this season. Hope you enjoy.
BONUS: Trivia question: In order, name the top five goal scorers for the Rangers (aka combined goals scored in a Rangers uniform since 2010 for the player) since 2010.