The New York Rangers are divided, but only one side really recognizes the division.
Fans of the team are clamoring for a youth movement. They see the young guys up front (Mats Zuccarello, Evgeny Grachev, and Derek Stepan) and the on the blueline (Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer, and Pavel Valentenko) and they get excited. They want them to see NHL time; They want them to succeed.
That's because, if the kids succeed, the Rangers will succeed.
But figuring out if management is on the same page is something the fans have been trying to figure out for a long time. Steve Eminger was brought in to add depth on defense, but he takes a spot from one of those promising rookies.
Alex Frolov was the other big name signing. If he plays like a motivated player who's really trying to figure out if the NHL is where he wants to be, then it's a good signing. If, however, he's simply killing a season and then shoving off to the KHL well...look in to your crystal ball and tell me how that turns out.
It didn't help that Katy Perry wrote a song about him either. Unless the Rangers are trying to attract Perry fans to their games. Then it might help a bit.
1) The Rangers finish with three 60-point scorers
With that said about Frolov, he'll figure it out in New York and keep himself motivated long enough to net 60-points. Unless he pisses John Tortorella off early. Then it's good luck. Along with that, Vinny Prospal should be good for 60 and so should last year's leading scorer Marian Gaborik because...
2) Gaborik stays healthy...again
His first three years in the league have been the only time that Gaborik's played 70 games (or more) consecutively. Since then he's been on-again, off-again with injuries and 60-game seasons. Well, Broadway is known for musicals involving miracles, and this might just qualify as one. Expect one to be completed by 2013, composed by Alan Menken.
3) This isn't the last you hear of Wade Redden...
Say it isn't so Rangers fans! With Redden being re-assigned to Hartford and his enormous cap number coming off of the books, Ranger fans thought they were done with the beleaguered blueliner. Not so fast. Redden either finds himself being called up to play a few games, simply passing through waivers a few times to see if anyone nibbles, or (low and behold) traded. He won't go away quietly though.
4) Michael Del Zotto repeats his rookie success
The guy trained with Gary Roberts. All freakin' summer. Although Roberts had to trick him to eat healthy (scroll down to the spaghetti anecdote) he's in ridiculous shape and should at least repeat it, if not better it. Expect more speed and power out of the 20-year-old.
5) Pavel Valentenko earns a spot on the team and makes himself a fan favorite
By all admissions, Tortorella didn't know Valentenko going in to camp, but the work put in by the young Russian has impressed his coach. Even if he doesn't make the team out of camp, expect him to get a call-up as soon as the team can fit him in. As far as becoming a fan favorite? Big hits and big shots normally help. He does both.
6) Matt Gilroy outperforms Dan Girardi
With a year of NHL hockey under his belt, Gilroy should be better equipped for the rigors of the league, and will have increased offensive responsibilities with Redden gone. Girardi is a good defenseman who can get his shot through, but he'll get nowhere near the opportunities that Gilroy will.
7) Henrik Lundqvist's 35-win streak stops
Since 2006-07, Lundqvist has been the only source of consistency for the Rangers, winning at least 35 games in each of those seasons (four). In his five-year career, he's also never won fewer than 30 games. While that streak continues, Lundqvist won't will his way to 35 this year.
8) Brian Boyle becomes the next big penalty-killer
Following in the footsteps of Fredrik Sjostrom and Blair Betts, Boyle catapults himself to the top of the penalty-kill food chain this season. It helps that top-penalty killing centre Chris Drury is struggling through a broken finger right now, but even when he comes back, Boyle will still get the big assignments, and earn some league-wide lover from those with a fetish for the shorthanded time-on-ice stat.
9) Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer, and Valentenko all play together in the same game
It will be easier to gauge the difficulty of this task once we figure out how many of the above are making the team (Anisimov will, while word on Stepan, McDonagh, Sauer, and Valentenko is still up in the air), but the youth movement will go in to full motion for at least one game. Whether it's thanks to injury, trades/releases, the cars of four or five veteran players mysteriously breaking down, this sextet will play together.
10) Someone finally sees through Glen Sather's facade and he gets the boot
It's been a good 10 years, and he's had a good run, cementing his reputation as one of the top General Managers in the league, but it's time to move on and help another franchise.
You tell me what part of the above statement was true. It may have simply been bold writing that sarcastically.
The Stretch (Remember, you're supposed to laugh): Glen Sather defies the odds and signs himself to a 12 year extension. Record numbers of New Yorkers become New York Islander fans as Charles Wang laughs greedily about orchestrating the whole thing.
Bryan Thiel is a senior writer and a columnist for Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game! If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can e-mail him at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.
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