At Sportsnet, Mike Brophy has a list of questions that he is thinking about as we get closer to training camp and the preseason.
Can Brad Richards pull a Mark Messier and bring the Stanley Cup back to Broadway?
Messier led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup in his third season with the Rangers. Richards signed a nine-year deal with the Rangers on July 2.
Richards said that he didn’t think that he was a “savior” for the Rangers.
It’s not a one-year deal, nor are the Rangers on the verge of blowing up their team after this season. This season is about taking the next step as an organization. It’s about having a playoff spot secure before the end of the season. It’s about fighting for the chance to get home ice in the first round. It’s about getting to, at least, the second round of the playoffs, and putting the league on notice that they will have to deal with this group of Rangers for the next few years.
At NHL.com, Dave Lozo writes that if the Rangers “can avoid half the injuries they suffered last season, not only will they be a lock for the playoffs, but they’ll contend for the Atlantic Division.”
Lozo also writes that consistency from the offense will need to be the biggest thing for the Rangers this season.
The Rangers lost 327 man-games last season due to injury.
Health is obviously the one thing that you can’t predict when talking about the season. If the Rangers are healthy, they will be good and possibly in the discussion for home ice advantage in the first round. I think that they can be better than the Flyers, but I still see the Penguins as the best team in the division, though there is obviously still some issue with Sidney Crosby. The gap will be closer though. They finished 13 points behind the Flyers and Pens last season and I think that the gap will be cut in half, at least.
This is a year for the Rangers to take a step from being a possible playoff team, to a possible home ice team. They have built themselves up with homegrown players and, hopefully, the right moves, so that they can be good for a long time. The team won’t be blown up after this season. You can make an argument for about a dozen or so players, not counting prospects and guys not currently on the roster, who are part of the Rangers “core.” These are the players that they are moving forward with, and these are the players that they are going to win with.
In their Annual Yearbook, The Hockey News picks the Rangers to finish in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They place their Stanley Cup odds at 25-1.
They predict the Rangers to finish third in the Atlantic Division behind the Penguins and the Flyers.
They have the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup.
The same eight teams are projected to make the playoffs in the east, with the bottom eight being a little shaken up. This is around where I think the Rangers will finish, sixth or seventh. That may not seem like progress to some, but I think that it’s going to be a closer race and that the Rangers will have their spot locked up in advance of the last day of the season.
The Rangers were projected to finish 13th by The Hockey News last season.
In The Hockey News fantasy preview magazine, they list out where they think each Ranger will finish the season in points.
They think that bother Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik will have over 80 points and that each member of The Pack Line will have over 50, Ryan Callahan with 57, Artem Anisimov with 53 and Brandon Dubinsky with 52.
They project Wojtek Wolski to score 46 points and Derek Stepan to score 44.
Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi are all projected to finish with between 26 and 28 points.
I could see all of these as being possible. Maybe a few more for Dubinsky, maybe a few less for someone else. I do expect Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik to both be over the 75 point mark.