New York Rangers 2016-17 Season Preview

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New York Rangers 2016-17 Season Preview

Jacob Wasserman

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For the New York Rangers, this season is perhaps more important than the past few. Some of the Rangers veterans, especially Henrik Lundqvist, are getting up there in age and the window of time where they can contend for the Stanley Cup is likely closing.

 

One of the Rangers’ weaknesses last year was their defense. Captain Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein had very good seasons last year, but veterans Marc Staal and Dan Girardi need to improve for this season. The Rangers will likely have youngsters Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath on the team to start the season. Their presence will be very much welcomed on a team of ageing defensemen. In the offseason, the Rangers lost defenseman Keith Yandle, who was the team’s leading assist-getter last year, in free agency. Yandle’s elite passing ability and 42 assists will be challenging to replace. His offensive presence will be missed in New York and the current players will have to make up for his dynamic play from last year.

 

Behind the defensemen, the goalie situation is very clear for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is the starting goalie and Anti Raanta is his back-up. Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault has already confirmed that Lundqvist, who has been a Madison Square Garden mainstay for more than a decade, will not be able to play quite as many games as he is used to, so Raanta will have to really step up when Lundqvist is rested.

 

The strength of the 2016-17 Rangers is by far their forwards. The Rangers need both Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, and JT Miller to replicate their fantastic seasons from last year. They also need Chris Kreider and Rick Nash to provide more points than they did last year. Nash hopes to be a greater factor as he is finally healthy. Meanwhile, Kevin Hayes, who had a poor season during his sophomore campaign, needs to improve his play especially due the competition among forwards this season. There are a lot of young, new faces among this year’s forwards including Jimmy Vesey (NHL rookie), Pavel Buchnevich (NHL rookie), and Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad was traded to the Rangers by the Ottawa Senators in return for Derick Brassard, who led the Rangers in goals last season with 27 total. The New York Rangers have the potential to be very potent in terms of scoring this season. A good offense will be especially necessary if their defense does not hold its weight.

 

Taking everything into account (especially their surplus of great forwards), I believe that the Rangers will definitely make the playoffs in the 2016-17 season. I think they will again finish third in the Metropolitan division (under the Penguins and Capitals) and probably between fourth and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, if the Rangers make a trade for a very good defenseman, they will most likely finish higher, as that is probably their main weakness. The Rangers faithful is desperate for their team to bring home the Stanley Cup (which they have won once since 1940), and once they make it into the playoffs, anything is possible.

 

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New York Rangers 2016-17 Season Preview