With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to take a look at where each NHL team stands at this moment with a series of posts examining their season. Have they met expectations? Exceeded expectations? Who has been the surprise? All of that and more. Today we look at the New York Rangers.
New York Rangers
Record: 37-28-5 (70 games), seventh in the Metropolitan Division, Out of the playoffs
Leading Scorer Artemi Panarin – 95 points (32 goals and 63 assists)
In-Season Roster Moves:
• Traded Vladislav Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators for Nick Ebert and a 2021 fourth-round pick
• Acquired Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes for Joey Keane
• Traded Future Considerations to the Philadelphia Flyers for J-F Berube
• Acquired a 2020 first-round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for Brady Skjei
The Rangers are just a couple of seasons into their rebuilding plan, but they made significant progress throughout the 2019-20 campaign. The season didn’t get off the greatest of starts though. After winning their first two games, they found themselves riding a five-game losing skid.
Things seemed to stabilize as season the progressed. They weren’t spectacular, they weren’t terrible. They just seemed to be a middle of the pack team in the Eastern Conference. But things started to change in February.
A team that seemed destined to miss the playoffs was making a serious push for a Wild Card spot.
The Rangers went on a four-game winning streak between Feb. 9-14. After a home loss to Boston, New York rattled off five consecutive victories. But they eventually cooled off in March, as they dropped five of their final seven games before the pause.
Overall, the Rangers took a step forward in their rebuild. Adding Artemi Panarin in free agency was like adding gasoline to the rebuilding fire. It’s a move that definitely accelerated the process. Also, Mika Zibanejad showed that he could be an elite number one center in the NHL (he had 41 goals and 75 points in just 57 games). The Rangers also decided to re-sign Chris Kreider instead of trading him away as a rental.
Despite trading Brady Skjei to Carolina, they still have a number of quality defensemen on the roster. Tony DeAngelo had a major breakout season, while Adam Fox was a terrific young player in his first professional season.
The Rangers’ biggest positional strength is between the pipes.
Yes, things got awkward this year because they had three different goalies competing for starts (one of them is franchise legend Henrik Lundqvist), but Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin both have very bright futures.
Again, the Rangers weren’t sitting in a playoff spot at the time of the NHL’s pause, but this rebuild is in seemingly very good shape right now.
Highlight of the Season:
There’s a number of Panarin highlights we could’ve gone with here, but Zibanejad’s five-goal performance against the Washington Capitals is impossible to beat.
At the pause, only David Pastrnak, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl had more goals than Zibanejad.
• Biggest surprises and disappointments so far
• Rangers long-term outlook
Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.