1. Why is this team worth watching?
Did you enjoy high school science class? You know all of those chemistry experiments where you get to see if the light bulb goes on or stuff bubbles and blows up? That's the 2008-09 New York Rangers. There are a slew of new faces and with them comes a new philosophy on the ice.
What's worth watching is seeing how the formula works out. Will the alchemy work and create Stanley's silver—or will it just fizzle out?
But if seeing red goo ooze out of a paper mache volcano isn't enough for you, then tune in for Nik Zherdev, who can be incredible when he wants to be.
2. Are they better or worse than last year?
It is so, so very difficult to say. My initial instinct is worse, but the building blocks are there to make something great—it will just take them all coming together lego-style to create a winner. The foundation is still the same, but at this point, who can really say what will be built on top of it?
3. Who should YOU draft in fantasy?
As I said, the foundation is still the same. Henrik Lundqvist has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy three years running and there is little reason to think it won't happen again this year. It's true that the only crease-clearer on the team in Tyutin, but Tom Renney's defensive philosophy remains.
That being said, one hopes that the reigns will be loosened for the mercurial Zherdev, who can flourish alongside Scott Gomez if he works hard. Even if Zherdev bags it, Gomez should be good for the same 70 points he got while sleepwalking through last season.
Little Leaguer Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, and Michal Rozsival should all benefit from a new, more aggressive power play bereft of Jaromir Jagr's puck-hogging, time-wasting possession.
As for the big signings—Markus Naslund and Wade Redden—I would say wait and see since they both appear on the down-swing of their careers, but they may be rejuvenated in a new setting. Then again, they may just be happy to collect their over-inflated paychecks—but at least Naslund is saying all the right things.
4. If they are my favorite team, why am I so down on them?
What can I say? I'm a pessimist by nature. If you look at the recent Stanley Cup winners you can see that all of them were built from within.
Instead of fostering that development, Glen Sather reverted back to the open-wallet policy and that scares me. But no matter how much I disagree, they are the still Rangers and I love them. Awwww.
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