Will the Rangers projected lines unite Panarin and Zibanejad on the top line?

With former head coach Gerard Gallant’s well deserved dismissal from the New York Rangers in the books, General Manager Chris Drury has added another to-do item to his list for this offseason, and that list is getting lengthy. A new coach certainly fixes some of the issues, notably structure, but firing Gallant isn’t a fix-all. There are legitimate concerns regarding the Rangers.

Firing Gallant doesn’t change the roster

While firing Gallant was certainly a step in the right direction and a much needed decision by the Rangers, it doesn’t change the roster and it doesn’t change the players. Drury aside for a moment, as he did inherit a lot of the current roster, there were far too many no-shows from the current core to ignore.

Mika Zibanejad disappeared. Artemi Panarin disappeared. Adam Fox disappeared after two games. K’Andre Miller not only disappeared, but was atrocious. Alexis Lafreniere disappeared. We can go on and on for most of the roster. Only Igor Shesterkin, Tyler Motte, Barclay Goodrow, and Chris Kreider actively showed up.

The Rangers roster, as it currently stands, is wildly vanilla. Firing Gallant doesn’t change that. A new voice may help reinvigorate some players who had tuned out Gallant, but if the problem goes into the locker room, a new coach doesn’t change that.

Locker room changes

There are unconfirmed rumblings that there are some locker room concerns. It’s not hard to see, even if unconfirmed, given how the Rangers folded in Game 7. At the risk of galaxy braining, it does appear that Jacob Trouba is the only vocal leader in the locker room. There’s a reason why he was named captain over Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, after all.

Plus only he, Barclay Goodrow, and Igor Shesterkin have been seen trying to get the team going, all at varying times throughout the season and in the playoffs.

If the Rangers are vanilla on the ice, and it’s hard to argue against that at this point, then it’s easy to draw the conclusion they are missing something in the locker room as well. Teams with a sense of urgency and desire don’t leave it on the bench, after all.

This isn’t to say the Rangers don’t care. They do. But hockey is a game of emotions, and it does appear the Rangers lacked that specific next level of emotions to last in the playoffs. Firing Gallant doesn’t change the lack of emotions from the Blueshirts throughout their short lived playoff run.

Mixing talent and leadership

While firing Gallant doesn’t change the locker room makeup, it may give the Rangers the kick in the pants they need. Or perhaps the structure they need on the ice. It’s easier for the locker room leaders to be vocal when they know where they are supposed to be on the ice. That was certainly lacking.

But they also need another voice or two in the locker room, perhaps more if Goodrow becomes a cap casualty. Some will point to the Ryan Reaves trade, and as much as I’d like to agree, it’s hard to be taken seriously as a leader when he’s not playing or contributing on the ice.

Like Nick said, there are more questions than answers right now for the Rangers. In fact, you can argue firing Gallant added even more questions. Drury is not in an enviable position this summer as things continue to unravel for the Rangers.

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