The NHL is less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Over this period we’re diving into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday Matt looked at the New York Islanders, today we travel the short distance to the MSG and visit those perpetual playoff disappointments; it’s the New York Rangers.
2016/17 record: 48/28/6
2017/18 prediction: Repeat of last season, will likely make the playoffs but won’t progress far.
The New York Rangers scraped into the playoffs last season. Having finished 4th in the Metropolitan division, the team’s 102 points were enough to secure a wildcard spot. Alain Vigneault’s men defeated the Montreal Canadiens in six games, but lost to the Ottawa Senators by the same tally in the second round. Standard stuff for the Rangers. Does 2017/18 look any better?
The offseason saw some unusual trade moves in New York, as mentioned in our Arizona Coyotes preview; Stepan and Raanta were traded away in exchange for a draft pick and defenceman Anthony DeAngelo. This marked a real shift in the Rangers’ direction. Stepan was a solid center and contributed heavily to the cause. Over the last four seasons Stepan was a 0.7 points-per-game player. For the Rangers, where games really are won by teams and not individuals, 0.7 is a good number. The loss of Raanta isn’t a huge blow when you’ve got Henrik Lundqvist tending net. Even if the big, beautiful Swede has just come off a career low .910 save percentage season. Former Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is a good replacement though for Raanta and will serve as a great back-up.
DeAngelo split last season between the Coyotes and the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners and will be hoping to continue to develop with the help of Kevin Shattenkirk. Free agency’s hottest target was plucked by the Rangers and will fill the space vacated by Girardi, whose contract was bought out. Oscar Lindberg was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in June. After 13 seasons in the NHL, defenceman Kevin Klein retired.
The New York Rangers are a team going though a rebuild, and by the looks of things are doing it the right way. The defensive corps of Shattenkirk, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith looks strong enough. Offensively the right ingredients are still present to help the team do what it does best: win games by committee. The Rangers don’t have stand-out stars like some teams, but are renowned for pulling together to get the job done.
Is it enough to win some silverware? Not this season, so expect a repeat of 2016/17.
What do you think of the Rangers’ chances this season? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.