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2017-2018 NHL Preview: New York Rangers

I'm expecting big things from Chris Kreider

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Nineteenth up are the New York Rangers who are in their 91st season. They have made the playoffs the last 7 consecutive years including the Stanley Cup finals in 2013-2014 where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 9th
Eastern Conference Standings: 5th
Metropolitan Division Standings: 4th
Goals for Rank: 4th
Goals against Rank: 12th

: The New York Rangers had a very respectable 2016-2017 season scoring the 4th most goals in the league and finishing 9th but ultimately getting ousted by the Ottawa Senators in round 2 after a rough first round against the Montreal Canadiens.  I might get hate for this but I HATED their offseason moves. Oscar Lindberg they had no control over but they traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to help free up some cap room. They then brought on Shattenkirk at the same value they let Derek Stepan go for. Derek Stepan had 55 points shooting just 8.1% (a career low) bringing on Shattenkirk (one year older) who came off a career high 9.6 shooting percent. Kevin is a respectable defensemen but he is oft injured and positionally out of place at times. Keep this in mind, Dan Girardi (who I like but everyone unilaterally believes was atrocious last year) was +8, Kevin Shattenkirk was -11. Different teams and situations aside, don't expect lofty things out of Kevin Shattenkirk for $6MM per year. They brought him in for his offensive production, I think they needed to focus on more stay at home defensemen. The reason for this is that while I'm still a deep Henrik Lundqvist apologist, he is clearly on the decline. He's 35 and over the last three seasons his GAA went from 2.25 to 2.48 to 2.74 and his save percentage went from .922 to .920 to .910. The anticipated backfill (Antti Raanta) is gone and I'm not sure if the team expects 29 year old Ondrej Pavelec to serve as the future goalie (probably Magnus Hellberg but he has a lot more to prove yet)? The team was solid last year in goals against rank at 12th, I think they fall back to the high teens or low 20's this year. On offense they were very strong but JT. Miller and Michael Grabner were above 15% shooting, they will likely regress this year. Expect Mats Zuccarello (shooting percentage) and Chris Kreider (more playing time) to see increases but everyone else will decrease in points this year.

Major Additions
: Kevin Shattenkirk and Ondrej Pavelec,
Major Subtractions: Oscar Lindberg, Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi and Antti Raanta

Prospects and Picks:
- Filip Chytil. He would be a good addition to their team right now given his speed, grit and two way play but, as one of the youngest draftees, he's going to be at least 2 years out. He's a strong skater and is certainly on the right path to succeed in the NHL low term. He had 13 points across 19 games in International play last year.

-Cristoval "Boo" Nieves. The 59th overall pick in the 2012 draft did a rare thing for someone who was drafted. He went on to play all 4 years at University of Michigan netting 110 points over 144 games through his career as a Wolverine.  He moved on to the AHL scoring 23 points across 48 games before getting a call up for 1 game last year. I don't think he starts with the team but I do think he plays around 10 games over the course of the year. It's early and he will need at least one more year to develop but he has top 6 potential as he adjusts and flourishes at every level.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Mats Zucarello. He shot just 7.9% last year, a career low for him. Part of this is due to the fact that he fired off 189 shots, more than he ever has in his career but part of it is a down year in shot selection. This can come as he headlined the top line and likely saw the top shut down opposition but I think his linemates didn't give as much support as they could this year. Last year he spent a majority of the time with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Kreider I believe in, Zibanejad not so much. This year he may get more Kevin Hayes which should improve his numbers.

-Chris Kreider. As one goes so does the other. If Chris Kreider and Mats get serious time together two things will happen. 1. Mats shooting average will improve and with that comes more assists for Chris Kreider, more importantly Krieder saw the 4th most minutes among forwards, I think he is top 3 seeing almost 45 seconds more this year providing more chances for scoring. Derek Stepan being off the power play unit provides a big spot for Kreider to fill into as well. Look for Chris Kreider to eclipse 60 points with over 15 PPP next year.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $3MM with 21 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 13th
Eastern Conference Standings: 8th
Metropolitan Division: 4th

NHL 14th: Calgary Hurricanes (Western Conference 6th; Pacific Division 3rd)

NHL 15th: Carolina Hurricanes (Eastern Conference 9th; Metropolitan Division 5th)

NHL 16th: San Jose Sharks (Western Conference 7th; Pacific Division 4th)

NHL 17th: Dallas Stars (Western Conference 8th; Central Division 4th)

NHL 18th: Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference 10th; Metropolitan Division 6th)

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)