Ryan McDonagh

Changes needed for Rangers, but which ones to choose?


The New York Rangers think they should’ve beaten the Ottawa Senators.

And when you look back at the series, they’re probably right, given the leads they blew in Kanata.

But another offseason has begun, regardless. The Blueshirts have made the playoffs seven straight years, and they’ve done so with many of the same players. They made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. They’ve been been a very good team.

But they haven’t been good enough, and now they’ve got some big decisions to make.

Do they pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency? The Rangers’ power play was terrible in the playoffs. Just three goals in 12 games. They could use a true quarterback.

Do they buy out Dan Girardi or Marc Staal? That would at least provide some cap space, and those two have a lot of hard miles on their bodies.

Do they trade Rick Nash? He turns 33 next month and only has one year left on his contract. He takes up a lot of cap space with his $7.8 million hit, and he’s not the goal-scorer he used to be.

Though some significant changes could occur this summer, do not expect GM Jeff Gorton to tear this roster down. Not while Henrik Lundqvist is still there. Not with Ryan McDonagh still in his prime. And not with all those good young forwards, including Mika Zibanejad, who just turned 24.

Heck, Derek Stepan may have had a rough postseason, but he only turns 27 in June.

To retool on the fly, Gorton could always pursue another trade like the one he pulled off last summer, when he sent Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Zibanejad. The Senators, desperate to make the playoffs, felt Brassard was the better player at the time, so they gave up the younger Zibanejad.

Perhaps Gorton could pull off something similar with Nash. Or if not Nash, Mats Zuccarello, who turns 30 in September and only has two more years before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Or maybe even Stepan could be moved.

At this point, nothing should be off the table. The Rangers have had a good run, and they nearly made it to another conference final this year. But they need to make some changes.

The only question is which changes they choose.

Rangers need McDonagh to find ‘another level’

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The New York Rangers are facing elimination tonight, so they’ll need their captain to bring his best.

Ryan McDonagh received a call-out of sorts from his head coach this morning, ahead of Game 6 against the Senators at MSG.

“When he’s on top of his game, I feel he’s one of the best two-way defensemen in the league,” Alain Vigneault said. “We need him to be on top of his game. I think the last two games were okay for him, but I know there’s another level. We obviously need that tonight.”

McDonagh is especially under the microscope given Ottawa has two-time Norris Trophy-winner Erik Karlsson on its back end.

Karlsson notched three assists in Saturday’s Game 5, a 5-4 Senators OT victory that put the Blueshirts on the brink.

McDonagh, meanwhile, had a goal and logged 26:41 of ice time, but finished minus-1 in the contest.

Related: Sutter calls McDonagh the Rangers’ Doughty

Brendan Smith, a pending UFA, showing well in playoffs


Brendan Smith could really cash in this summer.

A pending unrestricted free agent, the 28-year-old defenseman has shown well since being traded from the Red Wings to the Rangers at the deadline.

Smith is plus-8 in nine playoff games. Among Rangers d-men, only Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have been on the ice more.

“I love his game. He’s so hard to play against,” said teammate Tanner Glass, per the Daily News. “I remember the same thing when we was playing in Detroit. He was always one of those guys that when you go to the net you’ve got to be aware of when he’s out there.”

It is not a bumper crop of free-agent defensemen this summer. Kevin Shattenkirk will be the top dog, while the second tier includes under-30s like Smith, Karl Alzner and Michael Stone.

Smith told the Daily News he could see himself signing in New York.

But the Rangers may not have the flexibility to keep him — especially if they pursue Shattenkirk, as many expect them to do.

Pageau’s brilliant four-goal game lifts Senators to comeback OT win over Rangers


Jean-Gabriel Pageau had himself a performance for the ages in Game 2 against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Pageau completed the hat trick to tie the game late in the third period, forcing overtime as Ottawa roared back from a late two-goal deficit. But he wasn’t done there. His best moment was still to come.

His fourth goal of the game was the winner, as he ripped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa a thrilling 6-5 double overtime victory.

The Senators now take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Rangers, as it shifts back to Madison Square Garden.

On the deciding two-on-one rush, Pageau opted to keep his hot streak going, taking the shot instead of going for the pass.

For the Rangers, this could be a devastating loss.

Three times, they held a two-goal lead — thanks in part to a pair of goals from defenseman Brady Skjei, who is following up a strong regular season with what has so far been a very good post-season. The Senators, however, refused to go away.

Pageau recorded a pair of late goals in the third period, just 2:17 apart, erasing for good any lead New York had.

It was, until that point, shaping up to be a disappointing result for the Senators. Their power play not only went 0-for-4, but they conceded a pair of shorthanded goals.

Senators forward Clarke MacArthur left this game early in the second period, after taking a hit from Ryan McDonagh in the first period. He didn’t return. MacArthur has dealt with concussion problems in his career, however the club didn’t disclose any details of the apparent injury during the game.

Rangers sign KHL d-man Bereglazov


New York added some defensive depth on Friday, agreeing to terms with Russian blueliner Alexei Bereglazov.

Bereglazov, 23, has spent the last few seasons with KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, including a ’16-17 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 60 games. He led all d-men aged 24 or younger in assists, with 18.

Despite being passed over at the draft, Bereglazov had a good junior career, highlighted by capturing bronze for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors. He finished with two points in seven games in the tourney, playing alongside the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ivan Barbashev and his new Rangers teammate, Pavel Buchnevich.

It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in New York next season. The club has seven blueliners under contract — Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer — with Brendan Smith a pending UFA, and Adam Clendening a pending RFA.