Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.
After a rocky start paved with road games, the New York Rangers enjoyed a 2013-14 season that would be deemed a success by most accounts. That being said, life is often very unkind to teams that are on the losing end of a Stanley Cup Final … a point that probably isn’t lost on Alain Vigneault.
It doesn’t help that the offseason was a rocky one for this Rangers team.
Depth was one of the strengths that really stood out during their scrappy playoff run, yet salary cap realities prompted the departures of useful complimentary players like Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot. It was a no-brainer to buy out Brad Richards, but it also probably leaves a hole down the middle. There are also more than a few stats-inclined people who will believe that the organization erred in essentially choosing Dan Girardi over Anton Stralman.
Interestingly, the Rangers now rely a bit more heavily on the high-end. Martin St. Louis gets a full season with his new team. Rick Nash aims to redeem himself after another disappointing playoff year. Dan Boyle hopes to prove that he isn’t washed up just yet. Henrik Lundqvist’s new contract kicks in while prominent players including Marc Staal and Derek Stepan aim to earn new deals of their own.
With plenty of Eastern Conference teams making key improvements, it’s difficult to label the Rangers as favorites to return to the championship round next season. Last year’s team played at its best with their backs against the wall, though, so such thoughts might only benefit New York in 2014-15.
Let’s have some fun probing the many fascinating questions facing this Rangers team, then.