Rangers Must Take The Show Off-Broadway
The New York Rangers are one of the most storied franchises in NHL history, but hasn’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1994. They came close losing to the Los Angeles Kings just a few years ago in 2014, but since then have dug themselves a significant hole with bad contracts, no prospects, and nothing to show for it. They mortgaged their future to win a championship just like Chicago did, except they haven’t won three cups this decade. New York has been in denial, and it seems like this is the year they finally admit they were wrong. What they do in the next few days will determine the future of the franchise.
A Message from Glen Sather and Jeff Gorton. pic.twitter.com/Q56CXS8vDc— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 8, 2018
Step 1: Trade Away The Vets
The Rangers made their hypothetical first rebuilding step in trading Derek Stephan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for Anthony DeAngelo and a first-round pick. They must continue to get rid of veterans, especially those on expiring contracts, and get value in return.
Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello have been mainstays on the team, but re-signing them would leave the team in the same situation they are in now. Michael Grabner has been a stud, but could be worth a late first round pick. Nick Holden could be flipped for a pick or mid-level prospect.
While it will be tough for the fanbase to swallow, Ryan McDonagh should be sent packing as well. It’s tough to trade a number one defenseman and the captain of the Blue Shirts, but they could see a nice haul for the 28-year-old d-man. They could see a nicer return if they traded him at the deadline as any team who acquires him would have him for another season after this one.
Brendan Smith has been a disaster signing. The Rangers gave Detroit a second and third round pick, signed him to a nice contract with a cap hit over $4 million for the next four years, and yet his play on the ice has landed him in the AHL.
Marc Staal has seen his minutes decline, and while he is a solid defensive defenseman, he is owed $5.7 million a season until the end of the 2020-2021 campaign.
And while it is unthinkable, the ultimate rebuild would be to send King Henrik Lundqvist to another franchise. Although he has said he’s committed to New York, trading him would provide excellent value, give him a chance to win a cup, and gives the team a shot at a higher draft pick during their growing pains.
Step 2: Build A Prospect Base
The Rangers have not had the luxury of building up any sort of prospect pool. Their history of trades has left them with few first round picks. Their last pick in the top round before 2017 was in 2012. The result: a prospect pool made up of mid-round picks and undrafted free agents.
They started the process of rebuilding their prospect pool by having two first-round picks this year in Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil. DeAngelo, acquired in the Arizona trade, still has a chance to develop after being drafted in the first round in 2014. Their next two top prospects, according to NHL.com, are both undrafted free agents Alexi Bereglazov and Neal Poink. The team has to play and develop prospects in the NHL, especially with their current cap casualties of Staal, Smith, and the buyout of Dan Girardi.
Step 3: Establish A Future Core
This team has some good young pieces and could combine developing prospects, young guys hitting their prime, and key free-agent signings down the road to produce another contending team. Among the players that will need new deals in the next two years and are still under 25: Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, Pavel Buchnevich, and Brady Skjei.
They could trade some of the guys that are hitting restricted free-agency for even more prospects, but a combination of these five guys, along with newly-extended Mika Zibanejad and top defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, will make up the Rangers’ future core. Chris Kreider‘s injury is a situation that NHL fans everywhere can only hope ends in a full recovery; but at least for now he is skating again.
The future is bright for the New York Rangers, and if they make the moves to get them there, they can return to Stanley Cup glory in a few years. The team must change the mindset, roster, and direction of the team in order to change their long-term fortune.
All financial information is credited to CapFriendly.com
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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