Mark Messier — the former Rangers great, now serving as an assistant to GM Glen Sather — shared his thoughts on the Blueshirts on Monday and if his words were any indication, there will be one key buzzword around New York this offseason:
“Moving forward, as you can see, teams that win the Stanley Cup get stronger as series move on,” Messier told the New York Post. “So for us this year the big thing is to add depth so we don’t have to use as many players as much as we did.
“The more depth you have, the less chance of wearing players down and having injuries.”
The Rangers’ depth — or, more accurately, their lack of it — is a big finding from the organization’s post-playoff autopsy. A laundry list of injuries were released following the loss to New Jersey (most notably, Marian Gaborik’s torn rotator cuff) and, in retrospect, the postseason minutes logged by certain guys does seem a little nuts.
New York essentially rolled with five defensemen through 20 games: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman, who played decidedly less than the aforementioned four. Stu Bickel, Steve Eminger flipped back and forth in the No. 6 role, but neither played much.
Up front, scoring depth was a major concern. The Rangers got almost zero production from their bottom-six and it’s scary to think where they would’ve been without the surprising scoring punch from Chris Kreider, who tied for second on the team with five playoff goals. (He scored more goals than Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, John Mitchell, Mike Rupp and Brandon Dubinsky combined.)
It’ll be interesting to see how Sather and Messier fix the depth issue in free agency. The Rangers project to have $21 million in cap space, though that figure depends on the upcoming CBA.