They haven’t made it past the second round in 11 seasons, despite the superstars, coaches and high-profile free agents.
Forwards: The team is led by two guys who are leaders on the ice, offensive threats and overpaid.
Scott Gomez has only ever scored more than 19 goals once in his career, but yet is making $7.3 million a year. Chris Drury has never had more than 69 points, yet he makes $7 million a year. That’s 25 per cent of your salary cap tied up with two players who will get the same amount of points combined as some of the superstars in the NHL.
Markus Naslund comes over from the Vancouver Canucks, looking to turn things around. His numbers have been on the decline, but playing with new linemates is a good way to rejuvenate a career. Hopefully for Rangers fans, he can get back to his-goal scoring ways.
Defence: The team needed a puck-moving defenceman, and found one in Wade Redden. Redden, who has played his whole career with the Ottawa Senators, has a bit of reputation for being on the ice when a big goal is scored against his team. But he plays so much, that’s bound to happen once in a while.
The Rangers are hoping Redden can be a mentor to some of the younger players, such as second-year player Marc Staal. Staal had a fine rookie season, getting more and more ice time as the season went along. Look for him to continue improvement.
Michal Rozsival’s numbers might take a bit of a hit with Redden in town, but he’ll still supply the Rangers with some quality on-ice play.
Goaltending: Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best young goalies in the league. He has stolen many games for the Rangers, and looks to be in good shape to continue doing so for years to come. He is starting about 70 games a year, and without as many offensive weapons this year, the team will look to him even more for victories.
Pool picks: Wade Redden will be counted on to move the puck, play the point on the powerplay, and be an offensive leader. He will also play between 25-30 minutes a game, so odds are he will be on the ice when goals are scored. Stay away from: Markus Naslund. His point total has gone down in four straight seasons. He’s hoping a new look with a new team might change that, but he’s on the downside of his career.
Miscellaneous: The Rangers have $32.7 million tied up in six players, five of whom have long-term contracts. That means they can’t afford to spend a lot of money on the rest of the team, so they end up with more scrubs than other teams. And many of those scrubs will be free agents next season. But if the Rangers don’t make the playoffs, it will be tough for this team to get rid of those expensive players.
Expected finish:Third in the Atlantic division, sixth in the Eastern conference.
Overall: The Rangers have a lot of history as they are one of the Original 6 teams. But they don’t seem to learn from that history. In the late 90s, they overpaid for players, and couldn’t compete. The Tampa Bay Lightning showed that you can’t spend all your money on a few players and hope that will be enough. The Rangers have too much money wrapped up in too few guys, and it will come back to haunt them.