The Rangers are not in on Patrick Kane

With the Rangers prospects looking good against the Flyers the other night, attention is finally shifting to the Blueshirts and the 2023-2024 season. The Rangers roster is as close to set as we’ve seen in a while to start camp, and talk is about whether the Rangers have enough to be a truly competitive team. So can the Rangers win the Metro Division? The talent is there. The depth is there. Goaltending is a strength.

The pieces are definitely there for the Blueshirts. The questions will be execution, adjustments, and luck.

Luck is a big factor. If the Rangers win the Metro Division, it will be because they didn’t have any significant injuries to manage. We say this every year, and the Rangers have been extremely lucky the past few seasons when dealing with major injuries. This year is a little different, as one injury won’t absolutely cripple a position. They have space between Ben Harpur and Jake Leschyshyn and starting roles in the lineup. This is a good thing.

While luck will be a big factor if the Rangers win the Metro Division, adjusting to Peter Laviolette will be the big piece of the puzzle. Suit is going to have a more detailed post on what to expect from his systems later this week (spoiler alert!), and we’ve been beating this drum that Laviolette’s structure, specifically on zone exits, will lead to better than expected results. It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t glass-and-out all the time, and we will get a look this season.

One thing to expect is that the Rangers will struggle out of the gate. Each time they’ve had a new coach, they’ve struggled as they adjust to a new system. Remember when Alain Vigneault took over, and the Rangers were horrible in October? It was capped by those 9-2 and 6-0 losses to San Jose and Anaheim, respectively, which led to Martin Biron’s retirement. It may not be that lopsided, but we should expect inconsistencies and mistakes through about Thanksgiving.

That said, the adjustments will come, and if the Rangers win the Metro Division, they will because they’ve adjusted to the new system and are executing properly. This doesn’t just mean with zone exits, but it will also be with speed through the neutral zone, an aggressive forecheck, and sustained offensive zone time. All are key pieces in Peter Laviolette’s systems, and all are areas where the Rangers struggled under Gerard Gallant.

Winning a division is about creating your own luck and execution, that we know. There are external factors as well, like how well the Devils and Canes are going to play. The Rangers put up 107 points last season, finishing behind both teams. The Rangers, however, did leave points on the table with a bad November –losses to bad teams– and with a bad overtime record. A puck bounce here or there (sustained offensive zone time?) could have flipped the script.

Both New Jersey and Carolina are good teams. They will both make the playoffs. We can argue until our eyes bleed about which one is better. Assuming all three teams perform to expectations, then it’s anyone’s division. So can the Rangers win the Metro Division? Of course, but it will take solid performance, execution, and a little luck.

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