Led by franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers were a successful franchise during the 2010s, as they consistently made the playoffs and even reached the Stanley Cup Final during the 2013-14 season. However, all good things must come to an end at some point. The Rangers ultimately missed the playoffs during the 2017-18 season and decided to rebuild their roster. After being blessed with the 2nd overall pick during the 2019 draft and the 1st overall pick in the 2020 draft, the Rangers look ready to return to Stanley cup contention.
Why They Missed the Playoffs
The Rangers were invited to participate in the NHL’s return to play in Toronto. During their time in the Toronto bubble, the Rangers matched up against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes thoroughly dominated the Rangers during the match as they swept the series three games to none. This loss leaves a lot of questions about the future of the franchise.
The Rangers came into the 2019-20 season with a bunch of new stars and looked to be a force to be reckoned with. The team had some players thought to be the key contributors that actually struggled this season. If these players can rebound next season, the Rangers will be back in the playoffs very soon.
The 2nd overall pick during the 2019 NHL draft had some lofty expectations for his rookie year. Unfortunately, Kakko disappointed and only produced 23 points on 10 goals and 13 assists. There is a reason he was taken this high in the draft, and he should expect to have a monster sophomore season with New York.
Trouba was acquired during the offseason in a massive trade. The Rangers expected big things from the defensemen when they signed him to a contract paying him 8 million dollars a season. Trouba disappointed in his first year in the Big Apple. Scoring only 7 goals and adding 20 assists is not what the Rangers expected when they inked him to that big deal. In his second season with the Rangers, expect Trouba to have a bounce-back season as he will be more comfortable during his second season with Rangers.
The current face of the franchise may not be the face of the franchise for much longer. The 38-year-old goalie has been surpassed on the depth chart by two younger and more skilled goalies. During his 30 games, this season Lundqvist posted a .905 save percentage and 3.16 goals-against average. Due to the Rangers having two younger and cheaper goalie options in Alex Georgiev and Igor Shestorkin, expect Lundqvist to be either traded to a goalie-needing team or for the Rangers to buy his contract out to clear up some cap space.
The Rangers have done a fantastic job drafting over the past few years and have developed lots of talent that are ready to make an impact in the NHL. The Rangers will be able to move out current NHL players that are making a lot more money than their future replacements.
Staal is a former 12th overall pick of the Rangers. The defenseman has had a successful NHL with the Blueshirts, but he is on a rather large deal. New York needs to clear lots of cap space and he is one of the first Rangers that should be traded. Staal only produced 2 goals and 9 assists. A team looking for some defensive depth should contact the Rangers about Marc Staal.
Smith is a solid NHL defenseman that was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 27th overall during the 2007 draft. He is a decent bottom-pairing defenseman that can log about 15 minutes a night. His contract is just under 4.5 million dollars and it expires after the season. A team looking to add some veterans before the season or a playoff run should inquire about Smith.
As previously mentioned, the Rangers face of the franchise has come to the end of his Rangers career. The younger goaltenders have overtaken the starting position and pushed Lundqvist to the bench. A team looking for a veteran goalie to help mentor a young goalie should think about getting King Henrik. One such team is the Ottawa Senators. With the Senators not bringing Craig Anderson back, which my colleague Jacob wrote about, you can find that article here. they need a new starting goalie. Lundqvist can also help mentor younger goaltender Marcus Hogberg.
Rangers Players that Need New Contracts
With some breakout performers this season the Rangers will have to break the bank to bring back their key contributors. If New York is able to unload the contracts previously mentioned, then they will have plenty of money to re-sign their players.
Georgiev was the starting goalie this season for the Rangers. After putting up solid numbers this season with a 3.04 goals against average and .910 save percentage. With the emergence of Igor Shestorkin, Georgiev and Shestorkin will split games. Georgiev deserves a raise in the range of 2-3 million dollars.
The 27-year-old forward had a career season during 2019-20. Strome scored 18 goals and added 41 assists during 70 contests. He provided the Rangers with a solid opinion for the second line center spot. Thanks to his career season, Strome’s new contract could be worth at least 5 million dollars.
DeAngelo proved he deserves a massive contract thanks to his elite offensive production. During the 2019-20 season, DeAngelo put up 15 goals and 38 assists. Despite his poor defensive play, he deserves to be paid. I expect his contract to be in the range of 7-8 million dollars.
Free Agent and Trade Targets
The Rangers were very disappointed when they were eliminated from the play in round by the Hurricanes. If they don’t want to suffer the same fate next season, they have to revamp their roster.
The versatile 25-year-old may be forced out of Montreal. Over his 2 seasons in Montreal, he was a very productive player. Scoring 28 goals in his first year in Montreal set some high expectations for his second season. Unfortunately for Domi, he did not recreate his first season production during his second year, as he only scored 17 goals. The Montreal media has wanted Domi to be traded away from the team as he is currently playing 3rd line minutes. If the Rangers trade for Domi, then he could play second line with Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome.
The former 5th overall pick from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has been very disappointing during his NHL career. During his draft year, he got hyped up after producing 39 goals in his draft year for the Oshawa Generals. Dal Colle has struggled during his NHL career with the New York Islanders. Moving to a new team in New York with a better supporting cast should rejuvenate his career and he will be a productive player like he was in juniors.
After the Minnesota Wild announced they were not bringing back their captain of 11 seasons, rumors flew around social media of Koivu going to the Rangers. New York needs some help down the middle. The Finnish center would be a perfect fit for the Rangers as he would slot right into their lineup. He could also provide a nice veteran to the locker room to help mentor the young roster.
Similar to Koivu, the Bruins captain may have reached the end of his career with Boston. Chara has had an incredible career and would be a perfect mentor to the Rangers young defensemen. Players such as Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren and Anthony DeAngelo will benefit tremendously. The 42-year-old would help improve their overall defensive play and will be a good addition to the Rangers blueline.
Future Impact Players?
With fantastic drafting over the past couple years the Rangers prospect pool is one of the most talented in the entire league. New York has some prospects that will look to make the opening roster this upcoming season.
In conclusion, the Rangers have an impressive core with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. New York also possesses lots of young talent but they need to add some veterans to their already star-studded core to return to Stanley Cup competition once again. With a couple smart signings and young players developing, the Rangers should be a force to be reckoned with next season.
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