Updated Look at New York Rangers Depth Chart for 2014-15 Season
There are only a few short weeks left until the start of NHL training camp and the preseason, so now is as good a time as any to look at the 2014-15 NHL tilt. The New York Rangers had an interesting summer; how will their additions and subtractions impact them?
The Blueshirts have a number of roster spots up for grabs and there certainly will be a ton of interesting storylines to eventually monitor. Now is not the time for that, though, so instead we will take a look at the team's projected depth chart for the upcoming season.
The departure of players has led to the creation of holes and roles that need to be filled. Here is one take on the team that will be iced for the upcoming season.
No. 1: Chris Kreider
Kreider heads into 2014-15 looking to improve upon a successful rookie campaign. The former Boston College standout will look to record 20 goals or more and surpass the 50-point mark.
He has a great combination of size (6'3" and 230 pounds), speed and offensive acumen that should enable him to be one of the NHL's top young wingers this season.
No. 2: Mats Zuccarello
He was the Rangers' top scorer in 2013-14 and may lead the team again in 2014-15. Zuccarello is a speedy and shifty player who is a great playmaker and underrated sniper.
He competes with fire and feistiness and is an effective player despite his diminutive stature.
The second line will be a step up from where he was last season; expect him to pick up where he left off alongside Derick Brassard and benefit from a better linemate in Rick Nash.
No. 3: Carl Hagelin
Hagelin is one of the NHL's more underrated forwards. For a while it looked like the speedy Swede would be nothing more than a two-way winger, but a strong 2013-14 season and playoff run should change the way fans think about him.
He is one of the NHL's fastest players, and his speed and tenacity allow him to pick pucks out of the dirty areas of the ice before distributing.
Hagelin notched 17 goals in 72 games last season while earning minimal ice time. In the right situation, he could be a 20-goal scorer this season.
No. 4: Tanner Glass
Glass will serve his role as a bottom-six grinder and tough guy. He doesn't bring much to the table and his responsibilities will likely be minimal. He has the least job security of the group, so he may be replaced if a prospect has a standout performance in training camp.
Next in Line: Marek Hrivik
Hrivik scored 13 goals in 74 games last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He has decent size at 6'1" and 195 pounds, and his strengths include his solid hands and scoring touch.
He is solid at protecting the puck and has the potential to be another under-the-radar signing who benefits the Rangers.
No. 1: Derek Stepan
Stepan is entering the second year of a two-year deal. After the Rangers' recent deal with Brassard, Stepan will look to have a strong season to increase his next average annual salary.
Stepan is coming off a 57-point campaign. He will be the bona fide top center this year and in a position to prove himself now that Brad Richards will call the United Center home for 2014-15.
A 60-plus-point season could land Stepan the big bucks, but only time will tell how well he handles the pressure.
No. 2: Derick Brassard
He has a new five-year, $25 million deal. The time is now for Brassard to prove he is an above-average top-six center and this season will be his biggest test yet.
The loss of Richards will enable Brassard to gain more opportunities, which will come with more responsibilities.
More power-play time should enable Brassard to increase his offensive output, but playing alongside Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash should be very interesting.
No. 3: Matthew Lombardi
Lombardi was signed this season as a free agent from Europe looking to get his career back on track. He is a quality third-line center and his blazing speed will make him a great pivot for Hagelin and sniper Lee Stempniak.
Lombardi's experience and skill set give him the inside track over youngster J.T. Miller, although a strong showing from Miller in training camp could tip the scale in his favor.
No. 4: Dominic Moore
2014 Bill Masterton Trophy winner Moore will be back on Broadway for another performance as one of the NHL's top fourth-line centers. He is an ace at the faceoff circle, a top-notch penalty killer and a great energy forward who leads by example.
He is a character player who will anchor an important fourth line for the Rangers and will be up for the task after a strong 2013-14 return to the NHL.
Next in Line: J.T. Miller
Miller's time will come. He is a talented prospect who is solid in both ends and he has shown spurts of offensive creativity. The Rangers have sent him up and down between the AHL and NHL, but this year should allow Miller to further develop and prove he belongs as a bona fide NHL player.
No. 1: Martin St. Louis
The Rangers' top right-winger in 2014-15 will most likely be St. Louis. Despite his status as an NHL elder statesman, St. Louis is an elite scoring forward.
The former Tampa Bay Lightning star is a freak when it comes to physical fitness. His strict regiment, as told to Matt Tuthill of Muscle and Fitness, should enable him to be a 30-goal scorer in 2014-15.
There's a chance he falls in the 60-to-70-point range in 14-15. That is the type of production the Rangers could use on their top line.
No. 2: Rick Nash
Despite his shortcomings in the postseason, Nash is one of the NHL's most consistent goal scorers in recent memory. He has either tallied or been on pace to score 30 goals all but once in his career, so don't be surprised to see him notch 30-plus again in 2014-15.
He should benefit from playing with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard and he will, in theory, be an amazing upgrade over Benoit Pouliot. He is a better offensive player, has better hands and brings the size and speed that Pouliot did.
In this role, Nash should thrive. The Rangers will as well.
No. 3: Lee Stempniak
Stempniak is a hired gun for the Rangers. His biggest strength is his shot and he will be called upon to be a goal scorer in a bottom-six role. He should mesh well with Lombardi and Hagelin because they are speedsters who know their roles.
The two speedsters will track down the puck and then pass to Stempniak as the triggerman on an offensively charged third line.
No. 4: Jesper Fast
Fast, the man who dropped the "h" from Fasth to further emphasize his quickness, should earn a roster spot for the upcoming season. He is a decent two-way forward who plays physical despite his average 6'0", 185-pound frame. He would add some offensive acumen to an offensively challenged fourth line.
Next in Line: Ryan Haggerty
Haggerty was a standout at ECAC Hockey powerhouse Rensselaer and he inked a deal with the Blueshirts after his college season ended in the spring.
He has an amazing shot and is a goal scorer. That's what he is known for at this point. Time in the AHL to start the year will reveal what else he can bring to the table.
No. 1: Ryan McDonagh
This is a no-brainer, as McDonagh is a bona fide stud. He's a great skater, an amazing defender and a skilled offensive player who is on the cusp of winning a Norris Trophy. As good as 2013-14 was for McDonagh, it will likely pale in comparison to the heights he should reach in 2014-15.
No. 2: Marc Staal
He is good enough to be a top-pairing blueliner on just about every team in the league. The Rangers are really lucky that they can use him in a second-pairing role. Staal is a great shutdown defender, a top-notch penalty killer and a more than capable all-situations defender.
He is in the final year of his contract, so it will be interesting to see what course of action the Rangers take with their homegrown rear guard.
No. 3: Conor Allen
The Blueshirts gave the 6'1", 210-pound defender a three-game trial in 2013-14, but he has a good chance at making an impact this season. He is a physical puck-moving defender and is competent in both zones. He is a prime candidate to beat out John Moore, who has not yet signed a new deal for the upcoming season.
Next in Line: John Moore
Moore would be the next in line as soon as he signs a new deal. He is a talented offensive defender with a booming shot, but he needs some more polish on his overall game. He may be a blazing skater, but he needs to bring more consistency and continuity to his game.
No. 1: Dan Girardi
Girardi is the Blueshirts' top-pairing defender on the right side. He is a skilled shot-blocker, penalty killer and overall shutdown defender. He is one of the Rangers' toughest players and is a character player that leads by example.
No. 2: Dan Boyle
The Blueshirts' newest defender will step into a second-pairing role in New York. He is a polished offensive defender, puck mover and an adept power-play quarterback.
He is a veteran player who is showing signs of age, but he isn't a complete geezer. Rangers Unlimited had a great breakdown about how Boyle can help the Rangers.
In short, Boyle's a quality offensive defender. Smart deployments in the offensive zone should enable him to remain as fresh as possible in 2014-15.
No. 3: Kevin Klein
Kevin Klein was a top-four defender with the Nashville Predators, so he should be just fine in a third-pairing role with the Rangers.
Klein is a defender who can kill penalties and is competent in all three zones. He will be leaned on heavily in the defensive zone if coach Alain Vigneault opts to primarily use Boyle in offensive situations.
Next in Line: Mike Kostka
Mike Kostka is a journeyman 28-year-old defender who could likely be the extra defender for the Blueshirts in 2014-15.
He's a decent puck distributing defender and a solid skater who could step in if necessary. In 28 games last season, Kostka tallied 11 points, so at the very least he could provide some offense in an auxiliary role.
No. 1: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist is coming off the greatest season of his career in terms of success. Expect the sting of losing in the Stanley Cup Final to motivate him this season. He's an elite goaltender who is the best in the world at what he does and can be counted on to carry the Rangers this season.
No. 2: Cam Talbot
Talbot will remain the Robin to Batman Henrik Lundqvist this season in Gotham. The "Goalbuster" had a sensational "rookie" season with the Blueshirts at age 26 and will seek to prove that his inaugural season was not a "fluke."
Next in Line: Cedrick Desjardins
The Blueshirts inked Desjardins to be a depth goaltender who could add some experience to the Hartford Wolf Pack. He has a whopping six games of NHL experience, but has appeared in 219 AHL contests.
In the event something happened to both Lundqvist and Talbot, he would step in to hold the fort as the Rangers' starting netminder.
1. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis
2. Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Rick Nash
3. Carl Hagelin, Matthew Lombardi, Lee Stempniak
4. Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore, Jesper Fast
Extras: Marek Hrivik, J.T. Miller, Ryan Haggerty
1. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi
2. Marc Staal, Dan Boyle
3. Conor Allen, Kevin Klein
Extras: John Moore, Mike Kostka
1. Henrik Lundqvist
2. Cam Talbot
Extra: Cedrick Desjardins