New Look Rangers Looking To Move Forward

The New York Rangers have made 4 consecutive playoff appearances after 7 straight years of being on the outside looking in. However, they have not exactly gone as far as they would have liked and as a result changes were made.

It all started with John Tortorella being appointed head coach. The former cup winner in Tampa, Torts will definitely bring some intensity, accountability and energy behind the bench.

On the ice, there may be as many as 10 new faces after a very busy summer by GM Glen Sather. Hopefully now they’ve found the right tonic to at least take the next step in their drive for a championship.


Coaching

Ex-coach Tom Renney did fine in improving the team play and defence. But now its up to Tortorella to push the team further along.

Not everyone will be receptive to Tortorella’s ways. He can be a bully, he can be stubborn, he can be tough, but he is also a winner. He is hoping to bring his drive and experience to a Ranger team that seemingly stalled when it mattered.

Granted, his team here is not as talented as the one in Tampa, but its likely Torts craves such a challenge. They do have plenty of skill and smarts, and they also happen to have one of the league’s top goalies.

So long as the act doesnt wear too thin, if Torts can bring all the new pieces and old pieces together, the Rangers could be a sleeper pick.

Lineup:
C: Drury, Dubinsky, Arnason
RW: Gaborik, Higgins, Callahan, Lisin
LW: Kotalik, Prospal, Avery, Brashear, Voros,
D: Girardi, Redden, Roszival, Staal, Gilroy
G: Lundqvist, Valiquette

Forward

The blueshirts might have 3 solid forward units that can skate, provide some offence but will not be liabilities defensively.

The key newcomer is Gaborik who is a real wildcard. There are no questions on his talents. Its the injuries that leave his contributions unknown. If healthy he is one of the league’s most dangerous players, easily capable of potting 40 plus goals. But he missed most of last year and already got hurt in camp which was worrisome. There is no doubt the Rangers will need his presence in the lineup.

Who he plays with will be interesting to see. It could be dynamic prospect Anisimov who had the tools to be a number 1 centre. It could be the solid Dubinsky who can play strong both ways, is a fine playmaker and has good size. Or it could be the savvy veteran Drury who brings experience, leadership and a heady two way player. With 3 solid centres, there is plenty of depth and interchangeable parts.

Newcomers Higgins, Prospal and Kotalik are not physical players but bring some more size to the wings which will help. They are all capable of scoring 20 plus and playing smart, industrious hockey.

Callahan, speedy newcomer Lisin and maybe even prospect Gratchev could all be key components to the team and give them some depth.

Controversy aside, Avery is an impact player. Probably the most hated player in the league, Avery does his job and does it well. His irritating game is something he does so well. But he can flat out play too. He can chip in with goals, check, hit, fight and do lots of little things to go with his chirping and yapping. He will have veteran Brashear and big Voros riding shotgun in case he causes a riot.

There is a really good mix here up front. Its how Torts makes it all fit that will determine success or failure. With so many newcomers, a big impact may not happen immediately.

Defence

The Rangers have a mobile, good skating blueline. They lack though a physical presence and bigger, stronger forwards will give them trouble.

The team turns to young Staal to go up against the opposing team’s best. Staal is a horse who continues to get better and is growing into an elite shutdown defender. His positioning and defensive smarts are excellent. He has terrific reach as well and he plays such an efficient, mistake free game.

What they lack is another player or two who can help Staal with the key defensive responsibilities. They also lack size, physicality and toughness on D that may leave them short against bigger, stronger opponents.

Offensively they have plenty of options. Redden is paid the big bucks but is neither a top defensive blueliner nor a big offensive star. He does plenty of things well and is someone Tortorella relied on more when he took over as coach. Girardi is similar. A good mobile puck mover who can put up ok numbers like Redden, Girardi does a lot of things well, but is best in a supporting role rather than a top tier defenceman.

Roszival is a defensive liability, but probably their best offensive blueliner, especially on the PP. He has a good point shot and makes fine first passes out of the zone. Young Gilroy will be learning on the job. He is a terrific skater and puck distributor and has good offensive smarts. He may yet emerge as their top offensive blueliner.

They brought in Alex Semenov, formerly of the Sharks, to provide some size and depth on D. Likely a youngster like Del Zotto will be given a shot at staying among the top 6.

Goal

As Lundqvist goes, so goes the Rangers. One of the league’s top goalies, Lundqvist is the heart, soul and backbone of the team. His size and athleticism allow him to cover a great deal of net. He is also though positionally sound and has excellent fundamentals.

They will need him again to carry the team back to the playoffs. While the team has played fairly well defensively, its really Lundqvist who deserves the credit. Without him they’d be nothing.

The only thing is that he has not performed as well in the playoffs. Maybe its fatigued because he seemingly carries the team most nights. If so, Tortorella will need to find a way to play Valiquette more to give Lundqvist a break.

Special Teams

Talk about Jekyl and Hyde. They had the best PK in the league, but the 2nd worst PP.

The PK may struggle though with players like Betts, Sjostrom, Mara gone from the unit. It of course helps with Lundqvist, but the team used their speed and good positioning to fend off opponents on the PK. Players like Lisin, Kotalik and Boyle will be asked to fill in those roles up front. On D, the improvements will have to come from within for now as they do not have another shutdown blueliner to help Staal.

The Rangers have zero excuse with the kind of talent they had to have such a horrible PP. Redden and Roszival need to be better and directing the play from the points. It will surprise no one if they’re replaced on the top unit by Gilroy and Del Zotto. Gaborik should be a huge boost up front as a sniper, so long as he’s healthy. Prospal will help as well and Kotalik has a big shot and adds another weapon.

Depth:
F: Dupont, Crowder, Didiomete, Hillier, Jamtin, Rissmiller, Parenteau, Locke
D: Williams, Valatenko, Heikkinen,
G: Wikman, Johnson

What’s Left
Payroll: 52.6 mil
UFA: Barnes, Denisov, Immonen, Zherdev

The Rangers do have a bit of cap space and GM Glen Sather will likely use it. The big need is on D where they may have 2 rookies starting and if one or both falter, the team could have issues. So getting a good defensive defenceman to add balance will help. They are simply not physical enough to compete with bigger teams like Boston or Philly.

Draft Picks
R1/19 C. Kreider (C)
R2/47 E. Werek (C)
R3/80 R. Bourque (C)
R5/127 R. Horak (C)
R5/140 S. Stajcer (G)
R6/170 D. Maggio (D)
R7/200 M. Pashnin (D)

Kreider was a nice find with the 19th pick. Arguably the best skater in the draft, he should give the Rangers, at some point, another weapon up front. He has good size which he may be better suited for the wing so that he can use his strength and speed on the outside.

It was a nice pick and good to see NY replenish their cupboard as the organization su
ffered a terrible loss when top prospect Alexei Cherepanov passed on suddenly. The team got a compensatory pick which they used on big forward Ethan Werek.

Top Prospects:
F: Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, Evgeny Grachev, Derek Stepan, Dane Byers, Tomas Zaborsky, David Kveton
D: Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, Ivan Baranka, Michael Sauer, Corey Potter, Ryan McDonagh
G:

The team’s strength is on D. Gilroy was the top college free agent blueliner available and he joined the Rangers and should be big for them this year.

Sanguinetti and Del Zotto were top picks by NY with both on the cusp of making it. Both, like Gilroy, are good puck moving offensive blueliners who should add lots of mobility and skill to the D.

In the Scott Gomez trade, the team landed McDonagh who was Mr. Hockey in Minnesota. While he will likely need much more development time, he adds yet another former first rounder and touted blueline prospect to a team deep in them.

Up front, they did unfortunately lose Cherepanov, but still had Anisimov and Grachev. The two big Russians bring good size and loads of offensive ability. Grachev is looking to make the jump to the NHL after being a big scoring star in the OHL. Anisimov was a big scorer in the AHL and is a lock for one of the centre spots. He scored the prettiest goal in pre-season.

Sather has made mistakes but he deserves credit for rebuilding the organization and actually bringing in good young players.

Outlook: The Rangers are in the mix for one of the bottom 4 playoff spots in the East. They have an experienced winner behind the bench, who with a full season, should be able to make some improvements, especially on the PP where better production is necessary. They have skill everywhere and that will help but the key is of course Lundqvist. His presence will always make the Rangers dangerous. They may not be as deep and talented as others, but with the King in goal, they will always have a chance.

Outlook:


11 Responses to New Look Rangers Looking To Move Forward

  1. zackman13 says:

    well youve been using the descriptor industrious more in your last two articles, than ive eve ever seen on this site.

  2. pezzz123 says:

    descriptor industrious?

  3. pezzz123 says:

    what is this? sorry, I'm french lol.

  4. zackman13 says:

    oh nevermind… lol

  5. the_word says:

    Avery impact player? He's a glorified 6/7th winger that would be ignored if he wasn't a gong show.

    Rangers mobile defense is a double edged sword. They'll be goodish inconsistent this season and their ceiling remains the second round. Though I think Matt Gilroy will be a breakout star.

  6. Kramer says:

    Every body should visit the Kramer hockey page. The place to talk about hockey conspiracies.

    http://www.myspace.com/kramerhockey

  7. NHLman says:

    This is a terribly written article by someone who clearly has no knowledge of the Ranger's happenings.

    How do you list Arnason as a center when he was sent to the AHL two weeks ago?
    Where's Alexei Semenov, Artem Anisimov, and Brian Boyle? This "preview" is worthless as of August.

  8. hockey_lover says:

    It isnt terribly written. Its WRITTEN very well. Perhaps some of it may be incorrect but one thing has nothing to do with the other. Much like the next thing I will bring up …

    ""How do you list Arnason as a center when he was sent to the AHL two weeks ago?"" – thats like saying 'do you like hockey or eat bread?'   Whether Arnason is a center or a goalie makes has nothing to do with where he is playing. He IS a center .. he just happens to be starting the season in the AHL (which, like you pointed out, is incorrect).

    And out of the three names you mentioned (Semenov, Anisimov, Boyle), TWO OF THE THREE are listed in the "top prospects" section. Perhaps your reading skills are a touch below average.

    Having said all of that, perhaps you should write a preview of the Rangers season since, ya know, you clearly have so much knowledge of the the Ranger's happenings and are such a stellar english linguist and all. Impress us with your writings … or are you just content to sit back and ***** about the work of others without having any ability to do any better?

  9. the_word says:

    Dude, you're so right. As the guy writing 30 articles in the course of a month who isn't getting paid for his trouble neglected a player or two on the forth line of the Rangers. I mean what the hell, how am I suppose to know what to expect from the Rangers second penalty killing unit or who will fit into the top nine when there is an injury. It realllllly pissed me off too.

  10. paulieplatypus says:

    I thought this was a nice read, another great posting by that Nordique dude.  Maybe a bit long winded though?  I mean all he really had to say is that the Rangers are great and all the other teams in hockey are worthless and week!

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