In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Thirteenth up are the New York Rangers who are in their 93rd season as an NHL team. After making the playoffs in all but one season between 2005-2017, they have now gone two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs as the rebuild is in process.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 26th
- Goals for Rank: 23rd
- Goals against Rank: 23rd
- PP Rank: 16th
- PK Rank: 27th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 18th
- Eastern Conference Standings: 10th
- Metropolitan Division Standings: 5th
- Coach: David Quinn (2nd season with the Rangers 32-36-14 record)
On offense, they landed the biggest name available in the market this year in Artemi Panarin. Artemi has not only put up 25 plus goals and 70+ points in each season in the NHL so far, he has seen an increase in his points each of the last three seasons. Here is the thing, even with his addition they are lacking in strong offensive depth. Mika Zibanejad put up a respectively 30 goals and 74 points but it drops off severely after that, Chris Kreider had 52 points, Kevin Hayes had 42 points (now with the Flyers) and Pavel Buchnevich had 38 points. The addition of Artemi will help his line mates (likely Zibanejad and Buchnevich) but there is a need for young talents such as Kaapo Kakko, Lias Andersson or Brett Howden to help out. Kakko will have a lot of attention as I could see him being asked to really impress out of the gate especially given how much he has successfully done it in his career to date.
Defensively, I’m nervous about this team. They allowed the 3rd most shots against last year and the 8th most goals against. Their PK was one of the five worst in the NHL and they clearly need a defensive presence that Jacob Trouba provides. Jacob had 112 hits and 171 blocked shots last year and he should step in immediately as their top defender. In addition, Jacob had 50 points last year which, fun fact almost doubles the next closest defensemen from last season (Tony DeAngelo – 30 points). Adam Fox has potential but young defensemen typically need time to mature so this could be more of a long term upside. There is a clear uphill battle with this unit this season.
In net, Henrik Lundqvist had a 3.07 GAA and a .907 SV% last season putting him outside the top 30 in NHL in both stats. The 37 year old is definitely on the decline in his career and last year represented the worst numbers in his career. Here is the catch though, as I mentioned, he was getting no help on defense and historically the defense in front of him has been respectable over the years so with the addition of Jacob I think we could see a modest increase in his numbers to a 2.85 GAA and a .910 SV% putting him in the 20th – 30th area of goalies. 23 year old Alexander Georgiev had a very respectable 2.91 GAA and a .914 SV% and looks to be the heir apparent for the Rangers. He had 33 starts last year to Lundqvist’s 52, I could see this being closer to 50/50 split this season.
Behind the bench, David Quinn clearly had success with younger hockey players as head coach of Boston University over the years, he helped them make the frozen four tournament the last four consecutive seasons. He will need to utilize that with pressure from the offseason moves and expectation that the Rangers improve this season. He will be asked to cultivate young talents such as Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chyti, Lias Andersson, Brett Howden, Adam Fox and Alexander Georgiev. They likely won’t all be on the roster but there will be pressure to bring them up, move them down, play them more or less if the Rangers hit a cold streak during the season.
- Jacob Trouba
- Artemi Panarin
- Kevin Shattenkirk
- Jimmy Vesey
- Kevin Hayes
Prospects and Picks
Kaapo Kakko – Taken with the 2nd overall pick this season, I would not be surprised to see him crack the starting lineup this season. Most recently he faired well in the Finnish Elite league scoring 22 goals and 38 points across 45 games. He is the youngest player in hockey to win a gold in all three IIHF world championship tournaments: U18, World Junior and World Championships. At the age of 18, I could see there being a learning curve especially with other teams riding him physically but there is no doubt he is going to be a game changer for this organization. I see him as a sleeper asset alongside Pavel this season.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Pavel Buchnevich – If he lands on the top line with Artemi Panarin and furthermore the top PP unit alongside Panarin and Jacob Trouba, expect his numbers to make a healthy jump. To be clear, I think his goal shooting percentage from last season (17.8%) is completely unsustainable but he will see more changes, more assists and I think he could double the 12 PPP he put up last season.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$80.4MM Spent; $1MM in Cap Room; 22 players signed