It has been a tough and disappointing season for the Garden faithful this year. The Blueshirts have struggled all year and have lacked any type of consistency. The list of disappointments is stacked high. The failure of secondary scoring hopefuls like Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins and a young blue line that has struggled all year will result in the Rangers missing the playoffs for the first time since the lockout.
With this disappointing season there have been a few bright spots that should give the Blueshirt fans some hope. One ray of hope is rookie D-man Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto, 19, has had an up and down season for the Rangers. Del Zotto has had his hiccups through out the year but that should be expected from a rookie especially a rookie who is not even allowed to legally drink alcohol yet. The nineteen year old is nearing double digits in goals, 9, and has 31 points. In Del Zotto the Rangers have found their future power play quarterback that they have been so starved for since the departure of Brian Leetch. But Del Zotto's game does not end with his offense. Del Zotto has shown glimpses of being a solid overall defense man. He still needs to mature and gain experience but he should turn into a solid NHL defense man.
More hope for Ranger fans comes in forwards Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Vinny Prospal, and Marian Gaborik. The veteran comes first. Vinny Prospal is not in the future plans for the Rangers and might not be on the roster next year. But his case for being resigned is pretty strong. He comes cheap, about a million and change, and already has developed chemistry with Gaborik. He provides great veteran leadership and can score a little bit too, he has 53 points this year. He is a cheaper option next year than Olli Jokinen also.
In Marian Gaborik, the Rangers have one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, he is a superstar when healthy. The last couple of years the key word was when healthy. But this year Gaborik has shown the ability to stay healthy for the most part. He also has shown that he still has that blinding speed and the super quick and lethal release that has him at just about 40 goals. He has shown Ranger fans that he is more than just a sniper with his above average play making and passing skills. The soon to be 28 year old is now the face of the franchise with King Henrik.
Ryan Callahan is the engine that powers the Rangers. His hustle and leadership and energy make Cally one of the most important Rangers. What he brings to the ice game in and game out make him a huge factor for the Rangers future. He is not just an energy player, he has 19 goals this year and is the 5th leading scorer for the Rangers.
In his first full season in the NHL Artem Anisimov has shown the ability to be a productive offensive player. He uses his size very well, in a similar way to former Ranger captain Jaromir Jagr. He also possesses a sneaky wrist shot and for a big guy has some nice moves. On the year he has 10 goals and 21 points. His continued development will be a key for future Ranger teams.
Sharing the spotlight on the blue line with Del Zotto is Marc Staal. Staal is the Rangers number one and shut down defense man. Now, Staal is not a true number one, but he is a very solid D-man. He is very good at separating the man from the puck and uses his stick very well. Staal, 23, will be depended on in the future for the Rangers. With Staal, Del Zotto, and prospects like Bobby Sanguinetti,22, and Pavel Valentenko, 22, the Blueshirts future blue line has some promise. Maybe a smart free agent signing, maybe a Dan Hamhuis could also help that future.
In goal the Rangers have one of the best goalies in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik is the backbone to the Rangers. The Rangers rely on Henrik night in and night out. The 28 year old Swede is beloved in New York and for good reasons. He saves the Rangers basically every night.
These bright spots in this disappointing season should help the Garden faithful stay positive and look toward the future. If Gm Glen Sather can work magic and some how make the contracts of Wade Redden and or Michael Rosival disappear and does not handcuff them anymore then a key free agent to help Gaborik or Staal on the blue line should be in order. But for the time being don't fret Ranger fans there is hope in the future.