Making the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years to then come back and have the season the Rangers did, is difficult to swallow. While yes the Rangers placed 24th in the NHL and posted a 34-39-9 record and had their first below .500 record in 15 years. The last time the Rangers posted a below .500 average record was in 2003-2004. The Rangers ranked 22nd in goals for(228), 4th in goals against(263), 14th in power play percentage(21.2), 12th in penalty kill percentage(81.4) and while the Rangers did not have an overall terrible looking season a lot has changed for this organization.
The Rangers started off the season on the wrong side of the puck after dropping several games at the beginning of the year and being behind it was difficult for the Rangers to get any momentum going. While they did turn things around for a short period of time, around the trade deadline is when things fell apart for the team. That is when the Rangers decided to shift their outlook and change things up trading away captain Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Nick Holden, Rick Nash and Michael Grabner while acquiring two first-round picks, and several other later drafts picks. Whilst at the end of the season firing head coach Alian Vigneault and hiring Boston University storied coach David Quinn.
The Rangers have now three first-round draft picks, two seconds and two third-round picks. Amounting to 7 picks in the first three rounds, the first time the Rangers have had this much to play with in a long time, perhaps the first. Anyways with these picks came a different looking line up as the Rangers now have 4 prospect defenseman playing, a defenseman coming off an injury, with the front end looking a tad different after acquiring Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestikov. What went wrong for the Rangers though? A lot did…
What went wrong?
- Injuries: The Rangers dealt with injuries to Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan McDonagh(when he was on the team) these four players are the Rangers top players and players that play a huge role in their team’s success. With Shattenkirk being injured it made the defense a tad unbalanced and shifted things a bit. Kreider being out really left that speedy left winger hole wide open as the Rangers had nobody to fill it and when Shattenkirk and McDonagh are out it is tough to be competitive with two top four d out.
- Coach Alain Vigneault was terrible at putting lines together and developing players. This was one of the reasons AV was fired, his relationship with the players was not great and he had a hard time getting to these guys and getting them to do the right things. He was known for his odd line swaps and matchings and being a coach who never gave players the right chances when they would mess up. With a team that was struggling put together with a bad coach, only bad things will happen.
- No depth. The Rangers really had no one to fill the void when their top players were out or not producing, Paul Carey, Jesper Fast, Peter Holland, David Desharnias are not players you can substitute for a lack of production from Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey or no Kreider, or no Zibanejad. Without depth, this team had some trouble.
- The domino effect. When the tough got going, it only got worse. When the Rangers were basically out of the race and trade rumors came up it only got worse from there. And when it finally did happen things continued to get worse, then firing AV came up and Lundqvist was playing poorly it was just one big domino effect of a bad event after bad event. Luckily the offseason is here and things may get better.
Will things get better?
We’d sure hope so with the picks and prospects they have coming up. As Ranger fans are probably also screaming for a better season they can’t deal with being bad New York fans so the Rangers need to get better. They have their two first round picks in 2017 coming up next year who have displayed excellent play in World Juniors, the IIHF and their respected leagues overseas and with Hartford. Filip Chytil and Liass Andersson will probably be in the Rangers line up full-time next season so that is a plus as it helps balance out the top six. They also have picks 9, 26 and 28. With the #9 they will probably land Noah Dobson the 6’3 defenseman from the QMJHL who just played in the Memorial Cup, this is a maybe though anyways they will land a top end prospect. With 26, 28 they can either trade one of these picks or draft a potential top-9, top-6 forward.
They also have 24.9 million in cap space but have to sign 4 RFA forwards, 3 RFA defenseman and 1 UFA defenseman and these players are must sign, well at least 6/8 are. To say things will be a tad better in New York is understandable, much better, who knows. A new coach, new players, different lineup, aging goaltender. It will be difficult especially playing in the toughest division in hockey. Expecting a 5th place finish from the Rangers in the Metropolitan and possibly a wild card spot but would not be surprised if they miss the playoffs again next season.