With the rebuild seemingly over, the New York Rangers are in a good spot to begin contending in the Eastern Conference. Owner James Dolan wanted to send that message as he fired GM Jeff Gorton, leading to team president John Davidson stepping down. The Rangers are still a young team, so some may argue they are a year or two off being a playoff team, but many believe next year is the year.
Why The Rangers Will be Able to Compete
So why will the Rangers compete? Well, they have guys at every position. The forward core consists of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad as their main two guys. Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Strome, and Chris Kreider may not be stars but are still very good players. And with Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov up and coming, the Rangers forward core is stacked for years to come.
Defensively, the Rangers are definitely weaker but still good. Adam Fox is coming off a season in which he is in Norris contention. Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba are two other more proven defensemen. There’s also a plethora of prospects the Rangers have to provide more talent. K’Andre Miller is coming off his rookie season in which he was very good. Zac Jones made his debut this season, and Nils Lundkvist is a future stud, so it’s safe to say the Rangers will be good defensively for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, you cannot forget about goaltending. The guy who will be with the Rangers hopefully for the long term is Igor Shesterkin. He has been phenomenal in his time so far with the Rangers, but he’s not all they have. Alexandar Georgiev will be a good backup to Shesterkin, even though he is coming off a rough season.
What Would Hold Back The Rangers?
I don’t believe that in the event the Rangers miss the playoffs it will be because they weren’t good enough. I think the team around the Rangers is so good it can hold them back. Everyone knew how good the East division was this year, and when you compare it to the normal Metropolitan division, I think the Metro is better.
Basically, the division is swapping 2 teams that are worse than the teams being replaced. The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabers were the only teams not from the Metro that played in the East. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets were the two teams that played in a different division. When the teams are compared, I look at it as Carolina is a better team than Boston, and Columbus is better than Buffalo. And that isn’t something that is made up, those teams had better regular seasons. Carolina almost won the president’s trophy, and although Columbus wasn’t good, they were still better than the worst team in the league in the Sabers.
Predictions For The Rangers
So where will the Rangers end up? If I had to guess, I would say they will get a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. I’m sure they have enough talent to get a divisional spot, but it is tough to assume that they can get to that point after missing the playoffs every season since 2017.