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2013 NHL Season: What Could the New York Rangers' Lineup Look Like?

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IJanuary 6, 2013

2013 NHL Season: What Could the New York Rangers' Lineup Look Like?

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    NHL fans woke up to news that the 2013 NHL season would be getting underway shortly after the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new, tentative CBA agreement.

    Of the many different fanbases, the New York Rangers' has many reasons to be excited about the upcoming season. After all the transactions made over the summer, the Rangers are being considered a Stanley Cup favorite, but what will their lineup look like?

    How will Rick Nash fit in, who will he play with and how will the other Ranger lines look in 2013?

No. 1 Line

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    Left Wing: Carl Hagelin

    Center: Brad Richards

    Right Wing: Rick Nash


    In a few weeks, the long-awaited combination of Brad Richards and Rick Nash will take the ice for the Rangers. In this scenario, Nash lines up on the right wing, and Carl Hagelin will take the other flank.

    Hagelin had an impressive first season with the Rangers, and he started to thrive when he was paired with Richards. Impressively enough, Hagelin scored three less even-strength goals than Ryan Callahan, despite playing in 20 less games.

    It has been suggested that Hagelin may not be a top-six player on the Rangers, but in a shortened season, John Tortorella will rely on familiarity.

    Richards and Hagelin played well with each other in 2011-12, and the addition of Nash will give this line a nice balance.

    This line features the speedster in Hagelin, a setup man in Richards and a proven goal scorer in Nash.

No. 2 Line

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    Left Wing: Chris Kreider

    Center: Derek Stepan

    Right Wing: Marian Gaborik


    The chemistry and rationale featured with the Rangers' first line carries over to the No. 2 line in this projection.

    It will feature a speedster in Chris Kreider, a setup man in Derek Stepan and a proven goal scorer in Marian Gaborik.

    This line will also feature familiarity and two members of last year's "GAS" line. The addition of Kreider will add an extra dimension of speed to the line, and it will give Stepan another player he is familiar with.

No. 3 Line

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    Left Wing: Taylor Pyatt

    Center: Brian Boyle

    Right Wing: Ryan Callahan


    This No. 3 line has the potential to be one of the best in the league, because it would feature two-way players who also can score.

    Every team in the NHL needs a line like this, and this blend of players can be effective when you consider the balance already distributed on the top two lines.

    As hard as it seems to have Ryan Callahan in a third-line role, he will still be a special teams player and will have a chance to produce with like-minded players.

    Newcomer Taylor Pyatt is a player who likes to drive to the net, and that is a concept shared by Callahan and Brian Boyle.

    This line would be a great shutdown line and a line that could chip in a few goals every now and then.

    It is possible that Callahan and Kreider could be swapped, but ideally, the lines are more balanced under the current construction.

No. 4 Line

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    Left Wing: Mike Rupp

    Center: Jeff Halpern

    Right Wing: Aaron Asham

     

    The Rangers' No. 4 line would also be full of grit and grind in addition to its ability to be a shutdown line. Jeff Halpern is one of the NHL's top faceoff men, Aaron Asham is an aggressive player who plays with an edge and Mike Rupp is a veteran fourth-line forward who knows what it takes to win.

    This line would make a great energy line that could be used to help change the tide during a game, or it could be a line that could be used to punish the opposition.

Defense Pair No. 1

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    LD: Ryan McDonagh

    RD: Dan Girardi


    There is no surprise here, as John Tortorella would be remiss if he didn't pair Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi for the 2013 season.

    McDonagh emerged as one of the NHL's best shutdown defenders in 2011-12, and Dan Girardi took the league by storm when he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.

    As a unit, McDonagh and Girardi will be one of the league's best shutdown pairs, and they will block a ton of shots.

Defense Pair No. 2

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    LD: Michael Del Zotto

    RD: Marc Staal

     

    As things currently stand, this will likely be the Rangers' No. 2 defense pairing in 2013. Staal is one of the league's top defenders, and he will be fresher after re-acclimating himself to NHL action in 2011-12. 

    He is a defender who is great at shutting down the opposition, and he has some offensive instincts.

    Although Michael Del Zotto is still an RFA, he should be signed by the time the season starts. He is a budding offensive defenseman and will be an asset on this pairing and the Blueshirts power play.

Defense Pair No. 3

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    LD: Anton Stralman

    RD: Steve Eminger


    Anton Stralman is an offensive-minded defenseman who was a surprise asset to the Rangers last season, and he grew a lot under John Tortorella.

    In 2013, expect Stralman to keep up the good work and become a member of the team's No. 2 special teams unit.

    Steve Eminger was brought back for another season, and he has served as a serviceable bottom-pair defender for the Rangers.


Power Play

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    No. 1 Unit

    Left Wing: Rick Nash

    Center: Derek Stepan

    Right Wing: Marian Gaborik

    Left Point: Brad Richards

    Right Point: Michael Del Zotto

     

    This top unit would be the Rangers' all-in unit. It would feature tons of offensive firepower, a few playmakers and players that will help the Rangers score goals with the extra man.

     

    No. 2 Unit

    Left Wing: Chris Kreider

    Center: Brad Richards / Derek Stepan 

    Right Wing: Ryan Callahan

    Left Point: Ryan McDonagh / Dan Girardi

    Right Point: Anton Stralman / Marc Staal

     

    This second unit would have Stepan or Richards stay on at center after a line change. Last year, Stepan and Richards usually split this shift because Richards was fresh after only playing the point.

    Chris Kreider and Ryan Callahan would provide a nice balance on the wings, and Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman would all split duty depending on the freshness of the defensive pairings.

Penalty Kill

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    No. 1 P.K. Unit

    Forward: Brian Boyle

    Forward: Ryan Callahan

    Defense: Ryan McDonagh

    Defense: Dan Girardi

     

    The New York Rangers' top P.K. unit from 2011-12 will return for the 2013 NHL season. Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan will remain the top two forwards, and the shutdown-pair of McDonagh and Girardi will stay together.

     

    No. 2 P.K. Unit

    Forward: Jeff Halpern

    Forward: Taylor Pyatt / Carl Hagelin

    Defense: Marc Staal

    Defense: Anton Stralman

     

    The second unit will consist of newcomers Jeff Halpern and Taylor Pyatt, two players who have a ton of P.K. experience with their previous teams. Carl Hagelin will also get a chance to kill penalties because he is a speedy defensive forward who thrived in a similar role in 2011-12.

     

    The defense will also feature Marc Staal and Anton Stralman, a pairing that played on the PK last season. There is also the opportunity that McDonagh and Girardi will take short shifts if possible, but this is how the second pairing could look this season.


Goaltending

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    Starter: Henrik Lundqvist

    Backup: Martin Biron


    Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for the Blueshirts during the shortened 2013 season. A shortened season will mean that Lundqvist will appear in less overall games for the Rangers, and he will be very fresh for a lengthy playoff run.

    He is, dollar for dollar, one of the league's best goaltenders, and he will look to lead the Blueshirts to their first Stanley Cup since 1994.

    Martin Biron is going to play an important role as a backup this year because he is going to need to win the games that he starts. Biron was an above-average backup last season, but each game will be significantly more important in a shortened campaign.

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