In 2015, after 15 years as New York Rangers General Manager, Glen Sather resigned from the position, and Assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton took over. As a life long Rangers fan, I’m very happy with the job Gorton has done, especially in the past year. Now it could be Gorton or it could be the teams new President John Davidson. Davidson spent the last 7 years as the president of the Columbus Blue Jackets and during his time the team had the most success its ever had in its 19 years in the league.
Players like Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Kevin Shattenkirk left the team in favor of players like Artemi Panarin, Kappo Kakko, and Jacob Trouba. The Rangers are no doubt one of the youngest teams in the league, but they’re also one of the most promising in my opinion.
As of writing this article, the Blueshirts sit at 33-24-4 and have won the last 7 of 8, 8 of 10, and 10 of 13, coming within 4 points of the second wild-card spot. This team could definitely make the playoffs with the promising play the team is displaying. Great play from Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin, and the player everybody is talking about, Chris Kreider.
That’s the biggest question mark heading into the NHL trade deadline on Monday at 3 P.M. Kreider started the year off slow but has really turned it on in the past months scoring 17 goals, 14 assists, and 31 points during the last 30 games. Kreider was already a hot commodity before this recent surge, and now the great play will only make other teams want him even more. The Rangers have a huge decision that could impact the direction of this franchise for years to come.
The Rangers’ asking price for Kreider seems to be a first-round pick, a prospect and one other piece which could be a lower level prospect or a lower level draft pick. If the Rangers trade Kreider and get a piece like Robert Thomas from St. Louis, or Oliver Wahlstrom from the Islanders, plus a first-round pick in a stacked 2020 NHL Draft, it would set this team up for great success. The Rangers could also give Kreider an extension, but a player like him would easily want (and get) a contract within the $7M-$8M a year range.
Giving Kreider $7M could mean the Rangers won’t be able to re-sign other players coming off the books this year like Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo. Contracts like Henrik Lundqvist ($7M) and Marc Staal ($5M) mean the Rangers have to be very careful with the Kreider situation. Kreider staying on the team means the Rangers keep a physical leader that has experience in the league, but with the Rangers average age just second in the league at 26.3, re-signing a 28-year-old Kreider could hinder the team more than help.
Speaking of Henrik Lundqvist, the other bright spot is the goalie play for the Rangers. Last year, Alexander Georgiev appeared in 33 games, going 14-13 with a .914 save percentage and has continued to play well this year, but Georgiev isn’t the bright spot I want to talk about. The incredible goaltending by rookie Igor Shesterkin gives the Rangers a lot to look forward to. Shesterkin has won 9 of the 10 games he’s appeared in this year with an amazing .940 save percentage.
Lundqvist is 37 years old and has been declining for a good 5 years. It’s the same with the Eli Manning situation the New York Giants were stuck in for years. The Rangers have been loyal to King Henrik and have looked past his declining play, but Rangers head coach David Quinn did what was best for the team, and Lundqvist hasn’t started a game since February 3rd.
Henrik was actually a healthy scratch in the Rangers Friday night win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Now according to Quinn himself, the scratch was agreed upon by both he and Henrik after Henrik put in extra work in the Rangers morning skate, but for the first time in 15 years, Lundqvist is a healthy scratch? That has to be a sign of the times.
The problem with Lundqvist is his no-trade clause. Henrik has kept quiet on if he would waive said clause, but he obviously isn’t happy with the Rangers, and with Colorado Avalanche goalie Phillip Grubauer out indefinitely, a trade to Colorado could be in the works if Henrik wanted it. Regardless, the Rangers have two extremely important decisions to make that could affect the franchise for years to come.
The list of promising players for the Rangers is lengthy. Kappo Kakko, Filip Chytil, Brendan Lemieux, Tony DeAngelo and of course Igor Shesterkin are all great young names. Newcomers Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox have shown their worth, and familiar faces like Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich are doing all they can to make sure the Rangers play hockey in April. I see a playoff appearance definitely plausible for the Blueshirts, and even though they may not be true contenders, the future will be bright if Jeff Gorton makes the best moves for the team.
Featured Photo: Mike Rosa – GCSN
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