The New York Rangers are a team in transition. A year after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Rangers regressed a bit, reaching just the second round of the playoffs and firing coach John Tortorella.
Now, led by Alain Vigneault, the Rangers should be a better offensive team. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not they will be a better team overall.
What are five headlines that will be written in the 2013-14 season?
Read on to find out.
Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world.
He was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy last season and won it the year before.
This season, he'll win it again.
The past two seasons for Lundqvist have been incredible. In 2011-12, he posted a 1.97 goals-against average. This past season, he posted a 2.05 GAA. Both are well below his career GAA of 2.25.
Look for Lundqvist to continue his stellar play and win the Vezina again. He's in his prime and is playing the best hockey of his career.
Ryan McDonagh has emerged as one of the best young blueliners in the NHL.
A lock to make the U.S. Olympic team—and play major minutes in Sochi—McDonagh should take the next step this season and earn a nomination for the Norris Trophy.
He may not win, but McDonagh's defensive prowess and emerging offensive skill will put him in the elite tier of defensemen.
Look for McDonagh to have his best season yet and emerge as a true shutdown defender.
The Rangers had the 15th-ranked penalty kill last season. The year before, they had the fifth-ranked penalty kill.
A big reason for the drop in productivity was due to the loss of Brandon Prust, Artem Anisimov, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Dubinsky. The Rangers were unable to find suitable replacements on the penalty kill.
That should change. The Rangers signed Dominic Moore, a skilled penalty killer. Although he did not play last season, he will provide much-needed help when the team is down a man.
Look for the addition of Moore to significantly improve the penalty kill.
I'm a big fan of Benoit Pouliot. While he has not lived up to the potential that made him the fourth overall pick in 2005, he has been a very nice depth scorer for some time.
His best moment probably came when he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the middle of the 2009-10 season. In 39 games, he scored 15 goals.
I think Pouliot will end up seeing second-line minutes. He'll score 20 goals, play in all situations and really improve the depth on the Rangers.
The Rangers should have a lot of young players on the roster.
Whether it's Chris Kreider playing first-line minutes, J.T. Miller anchoring the third line or Dylan McIlrath patrolling the blue line, the Rangers will start to bear the fruits of their prospect system.
In addition to those three stud prospects, the Rangers should also see contributions from Danny Kristo, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg. Michael St. Croix is a sleeper to watch.
The Rangers didn't fully embrace the youth movement under John Tortorella. Now that he's gone and Alain Vigneault is in, the young players should see a lot of playing time. And they will contribute significantly.