New York Rangers
The New York Rangers added a ton this offseason. They may have benefited the most out of anyone in the division; the question is, how much will it really matter? The team only had two players eclipse the 50-point threshold last season, and their reliance on youth had them trend downward.
Their second worst record in the division did end up working for their benefit, however, as they were able to land the second overall pick; thus adding the immensely talented Kaapo Kakko to their group. Kakko should produce at the NHL level, how much he will produce in his rookie season is up for debate, but a gradual trajectory seems likely for the winger.
The two big additions to the team, however, where made outside of the draft; trading for defenseman Jacob Trouba and adding Artemi Panarin in free agency. Panarin is huge. He is the elite, no doubt, number one scorer that every team desperately covets. Having him leading the charge offensively should take the pressure off of the young guys and help veterans like Mika Zibanejed and Chris Kreider flourish.
Jacob Trouba is also a tremendous acquisition for this team. A 50-point defenseman is hard to come across, and to secure one who is just entering his post age 25 season is an incredible value. Trouba becomes the top defenseman for this team, and the great mix of the youth found in Tony DeAngelo and Brady Skjei, should balance well with the experience in Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc Staal to create an above average group.
In net is where this team becomes a little more uncertain. Henrik Lindqvist had one of his worst seasons, and it will be interesting to see if that is a sign of father time claiming another or an elite goalie trying his best to salvage what was the remnants of a really bad team. Alexander Georgiev was better and should complement a more focused and assisted Lindqvist.
Developing the Kids
This team is young, and players like Pavel Buchnevich, Brett Howden, and Vladislav Namestnikov will be relied upon to be 20-plus goal scorers in the coming season. Whether or not they can be that will speak to the success of this season for this team.
Keeping up with the Metro
This Division is stacked, and it is difficult to really believe that a team with so much youth and uncertainty can really keep up, night in and night out, with the kind of talent they’ll be asked to face.
The End of the Kings Reign?
Lundqvist has had a Hall of Fame Career, but how much is left in the tank? If this team asks a 38-year-old netminder to play another 50-game season, then this might just be the beginning notes of his swan song.
First Wildcard Team