Hey Bleachers, what's up?
Before I start on the actual topic of this article, I know that the season doesn't start for another 2 months, and that a lot can happen between now and then. However, I have a real urge to share my thoughts on how the Rangers will fare over the next season.
First, I would like to point out that I am an optimist, and foolish as that may be, I believe that that will make the playoffs this year.
However, this is dependent on many things, which I will now address.
First of all, to make the playoffs this year, the Rangers are going to need another season like the previous one from Marian Gaborik.
Gabby provided the majority of the scoring for the Rangers by himself last year, posting 86 points (42g, 44a), and he was the main threat whenever he was on the ice.
The Rangers will need him to step up again, and play like that this year to have any hope of making the playoffs.
However, I believe that if he stays healthy, and only misses a few games like last season, then he will bring that same offensive prowess as last year!
Last year, unlike Gaborik, the rest of the forwards provided next to no offense.
To make the playoffs next year, guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Vinny Prospal (not as much as the others), Chris Drury, Artem Anisimov, and Sean Avery will need to provide some secondary scoring to complement the numbers Gaborik was putting up on a regular basis last season.
If these guys can join the scoring party on a more consistent basis, then the Rangers will have a better chance to succeed,
As the title suggests, the Rangers' playoff hopes rest partly on which Sean Avery turns up for the season.
Last season, there were glimpses of the Sean Avery that us Rangers fans love, the Sean that draws penalties, and agitates opponents like crazy.
This was especially noticeable during the Dallas Stars game, where he scored 2 goals, had a multi point game, and drew a number of penalties.
However, more often than not, last season we saw the Sean Avery that was very pedestrian like, and was benched a few times by coach John Tortorella.
If the Rangers are to make the playoffs, they are going to need a consistent season from Avery.
This year Chris Drury really needs to start showing why he was given the "C" when Jaromir Jagr left in 2008.
Since becoming captain of the Rangers, Drury has put up mediocre at best numbers, and hasn't really shown the characteristics of a good leader.
He rarely stands up for himself or for his team mates, doesn't pick up the team and put them on his shoulders when the team is playing badly, and worst of all, at certain points of last season, found himself on the 4th line.
Now I'm no NHL coach, and I'm not trying to be, but even I know that if your captain is relegated to the 4th line because he is not pulling his weight, then there has to be a problem.
I have a feeling that this will be a key year for Drury, as I can see him losing the captaincy if his play is similar to that of last year.
And if this does happen, expect the "C" to be stitched on to the sweater of someone like Ryan Callahan.
It is obvious that the Rangers' playoff hopes rest on the defense, especially the younger guys who will probably need to step up a bit more than last season.
Guys like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, and Matt Gilroy will need to pick up their play last year, and should not be surprised to find themselves handed more minutes over the season.
In the cases of Staal, Girardi, and Del Zotto, it is clear that the management regard these guys highly.
This past offseason, both Staal and Girardi were RFA's, however Girardi recently signed a 4 year contract with the Rangers.
Staal is still an RFA, however GM Sather has publicly stated that he will match any offer sheet tabled to Staal, so there is no rush in that sense to get anything signed.
20 year old Del Zotto is also highly regarded, as last season he was the youngest defenseman to reach the full roster from training camp, since Brian Leetch who did it as a 19 year old.
He saw time on the power play, finished second in scoring for rookie defensemen, and was even named rookie of the month for October.
The other rookie defenseman on the team, Matt Gilroy didn't have as much of a good time, with rumours saying that Tortorella wanted to send him to Calgary as part of the Jokinen & Prust trade. However, he was sent down to the minors in the end.
Though, if these guys can all step up their play to the next level, increase production, and keep it steady at the blue line, then there is no reason that the Rangers can't do well in the up and coming season.
In this slide, I will be looking at the other three defensemen that the Rangers have signed at the moment, and they are Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden, and Steve Eminger.
First of all, it appears that there is only space for two out of these three guys to start the season, with the Rangers looking like they will waive Wade Redden, and his massive cap hit.
This will probably be a good idea as it will create a bit of cap space for the team, and it may serve as a wake up call for Redden to buck up his act, and may help him pick up his play.
Now this leaves us with Rozsival and Eminger, who will both need to pick up their play for next season.
Rozsival will more than likely see time on the special teams next season, definitely on the Powerplay and more than likely on the Penalty Kill as well.
I think that if the Rangers are to make the playoffs then he will need to imrpove production, and help mentor the younger guys of the defense.
I believe that Eminger is quite underrated, as he is quite a solid defenseman, and is reliable because you know what you're going to get with him.
However, these guys will need to step up as the older defensemen if the Rangers are to stand a chance in the playoffs.
I gave this guy his own slide, because he is the major new addition to the team, and he is one of those players who could go either way with regards to scoring.
He could either go on and score a high number of points, or he could have a year like last year and score a small number of points compared to his usual standards.
This is a good signing for the Rangers as he is only there for a year.
With a moderate cap hit, and if he does impress next year, then Frolov could be signed to a contract on better terms.
I do believe that Frolov will improve on his numbers from last year, and give Gabby a bit of support up front.
The Rangers haven't made any major splashes over the free agency period as of yet. However, the signings that they did make seem to be solid in depth signings.
The first clever thing Glen Sather did was to go out and sign a capable back up in the form of Martin Biron. This is a great move for the Rangers as Henrik Lundqvist played too many games last year, and with the addition of Biron to lighten the load, Hank will be a lot fresher than last season.
Well one thing that Boogaard, and myself have in common is that we have both scored the same number of goals over the last 2 seasons in the NHL.
With that said, he has not been brought in to score, he has been brought in to enforce. And he will do that—Well.
With the loss of Jody Shelley, Sather went out and addressed that issue straight away. He has brought in one of the most feared enforcers in the league, and he will bring in a bit of extra toughness to a team that was lacking last season.
Teaming him with Brandon Prust will make them a very scary duo to play against.
Derek tragically passed away on 13th May 2011, at the age of 28. R.I.P Boogeyman, you will truly be missed.
These two guys were obtained through trades, with White coming from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller, and Eminger came from the Anaheim Ducks for Aaron Voros and minor leaguer Ryan Hillier.
Now I feel that these two trades are quite underrated, as Eminger was a former 12th pick of the 2002 draft and White is a solid 12 year veteran of the NHL.
They both bring experience, and I believe they will provide the Rangers that extra depth that they were looking for that they lacked last season.
In my opinion, I do believe that the Rangers will make the playoffs, providing that Gaborik can stay healthy for the majority of the season, and that the rest of the team starts providing some offense.
However, if they do make the playoffs, it will be by a small margin, probably during the last week of the season.
Thanks for reading and do feel free to make any comments, you're welcome to make your suggestions.
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