As the 2021-22 NHL season approaches, training camps will open. The New York Rangers already look like one of the more intriguing teams to watch.
Of course, the usual favorites take center stage with the Stanley Cup punters.
The Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning lead the field of top Cup contenders. They are followed by teams like the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes to name a few.
Nevertheless; the Blueshirts might surprise us all.
New York Rangers will be harder to face
The Rangers will certainly be tougher, but will they be better?
In addition to the sacking of coach David Quinn and the hiring of Gerard Gallant, the Rangers traded for Barclay Goodrow (of Tampa Bay) and Ryan Reaves (Vegas), which certainly adds courage. They also had to trade RFA, Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for more headroom, so it’s a big offensive weapon gone.
“He’s a guy that we targeted and who obviously came out and made a deal with Tampa early to get the upper hand,” Drury said of Goodrow via NHL.com. “I think he’s pretty versatile. I could see him doing all kinds of different things for Gerard (Gallant), whether it was more time in the middle, whether it was face-offs in the d zone. But we think he has a pretty complete game. He will be able to help a lot of different areas.
The addition of Goodrow not only strengthened the bottom six on the squad, but also diversified the way they played. The additions of Sammy Blais and Ryan Reaves say more. When the first two rows jump over the boards, the teams will rush to bring out their defensive specialists. When the opposition sends their best lines, they are likely to run into a lot more crash and bang than they are used to playing Blueshirts. This revised list fits perfectly with what Gérard Gallant likes to do.
New York still has the talents of superstars, Adam Fox in defense, as well as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad in attack. Still, they will badly need their young talent to produce secondary scores. They also have plenty of room to add a top row to the front if they want.
It seems unlikely at this time that they’ll add another expensive player to the lineup before the season begins via a trade. The Rangers would probably be better off waiting and seeing what they have before taking action.
Blue shirts have an upscale outlook
Lafrenière finished last year with 21 points in 56 games, but has 13 of those points in the last 25 games of the season. He has also scored 8 of his 12 goals in the team’s last 23 games. That solid finish allowed new coach Gerard Gallant to consider him for a top-six role, be it on the left or right wing.
“I really hope that,” Gallant replied to a question about whether Alexis will play on one of the top two lines. “I’m going to talk to the kid and see where he feels most comfortable playing and try to get him there. You can put it with different lines and different people. I don’t think he has a place he wants to play – he’s like any other kid, he wants to play a lot.