Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.
The Rangers are the classic “tease” team. They offer one of the best goalies in the world, top-end offensive talent, and sound defensive work. They should be a Stanley Cup contender each year. “Should” being the operative word there.
Looking at how they’ve finished the last few years, it’s been a roller coaster. In the past four seasons they’ve missed the playoffs, been bounced out in the first and second rounds and made it to the Eastern finals two seasons ago. They’ve done everything but make the Stanley Cup Final and now they’ll look to do that with a coach who was there as recently as 2011 and knows a fair bit about the sting of unfulfilled expectations.
The Rangers are young and talented but their franchise goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, is itchy to win now.
The biggest news of the summer came when the Rangers fired John Tortorella and hired former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to replace him. The thought here is that Torts wore out the players with his tough ways and that Vigneault will help tap into the Rangers’ offensive potential a bit more.
As for player news, the Rangers kept it rather quiet. They acquired former Canadiens prospect Danny Kristo in exchange for their own prospect Christian Thomas in a trade. Free agency was equally low-key with signings like defenseman Aaron Johnson and forwards Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore. Moore’s story in particular is inspiring returning to hockey after the sudden passing of his wife.
Now if they can just get restricted free agent Derek Stepan taken care of and maybe start negotiating with their three potential unrestricted free agents next summer (Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi), GM Glen Sather can take a breather.
The Rangers’ core is strong (did we forget to mention Rick Nash?) and there’s no reason to think they won’t be a Stanley Cup threat again this season.