One year ago, the New York Rangers entered training camp with aspirations to be the Stanley Cup Champions. With a star-loaded roster, the Rangers came short of the ultimate goal.
This year, the big names and leaders of the last two seasons (Jagr, Avery, Straka, possibly Shanahan) are gone, and the focus during training camp will be on how to build team chemistry around the core players the Rangers have, and to build a team with the essentials to win in the new NHL: speed, size, and skill.
The Rangers' roster will be centered on a new leadership group, as second-year Rangers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez will be the main focus of the team's offense. This provides a change from the last couple of seasons, where the Rangers offense started and ended with a #68, who was the captain, on the top line.
With the 4 fan-favorite forwards gone, the Rangers replaced them with other big name players, Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev, who the Rangers hope will have chemistry with either Gomez or Drury. Also, the Rangers have brought along solid role players Aaron Voros and Patrick Rissmiller, who will be valued as solid 3rd and 4th line players.
On defense, fan targets Marek Malik and Chrisitan Backman are now ex-Rangers, along with Fedor Tyutin, and the Rangers signed all-star defenseman Wade Redden and capable Dmitri Kalinin. These two should provide offensively, as well as steady play in front of the Rangers' MVP, goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Despite all of the changes, the one constant that remains is Lundqvist, and the team will live or die on his shoulders. As long as Lundqvist is playing well, the Rangers will be battling for playoff position come springtime.
This team's philosophy will be centered on the same values as the Rangers team that recorded 100 points in 2005-06: chemistry, timely scoring, and excellent goaltending. Despite a turnover in personnel, Lundqvist gives the Rangers a chance to win every night, and the rest is up to the new Rangers leaders: Gomez and Drury.