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 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.