Stop the presses—the New York Rangers have qualified for postseason play in six of the last seven seasons.
What? Who? The Rangers?
An influx of young Rangers prospects have made it all possible.
Rangers success may be old news—and dare I say, even expected—at this point, but forgive me if I’m still unprepared to preemptively shell out extravagant sums for playoff tickets each year.
Maybe it’s my roots in New York fandom. Maybe it’s just what happens when you grow up cheering for the frequently underachieving and disappointing New York Mets and New York Knicks.
Maybe it’s just what it means to be a New York Rangers fan.
Despite New York’s extended string of prosperity, it’s difficult to forget that you have to go all the way back to 1996-97 to find the last time the Rangers qualified for the playoffs prior to their franchise renaissance in 2005-06.
Even with a long and storied history, triumph has mostly proven to be few and far between for one of hockey’s renowned Original Six franchises.
When this prolonged run began, the success still felt very tentative, culminating with the team just barely missing out on the 2009-10 playoffs. But the mood seems different this time around.
Gone are the days of overpriced free-agent acquisitions. No longer will you find aging superstars and their rapidly declining production dominating the their top lines and impeding the progress of the team’s young assets. Best of all, though? To the rest of the NHL, frivolously mortgaging the future for immediate gains is, thankfully, a thing of the past.
Opposing front offices must be kicking themselves.
Beginning with director of player personnel Gordie Clark, the Rangers are finally built for long-term success.
Clark, largely credited as the source of the franchise’s philosophical about-face, has been instrumental in the team’s recent upward surge in the standings, and it all begins with the youth movement.
Gordie Clark (via nhl.com):
A lot of people thought in New York you had to just get all the big-money players, but in the end, they wanted a really hard-working team, and that’s what we decided to work toward. It was going to be younger.
Sound draft strategy and sensible trades have replenished the Rangers’ once barren prospect pool and helped to accrue a myriad of valuable young assets—some already paying massive dividends for the parent club—that render New York’s future to be very bright.
In Gordie Clark we trust.
Here are nine prospects that the Rangers will, eventually, undoubtedly want to tie up to long-term deals.