Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's Next for the New York Rangers?

The New York Rangers are holding their break-up day today, after their opening round loss to the Washington Capitals and a very tumultuous 2008-2009 season. So where do the Rangers go from here? The Rangers played 89 games this year including the playoffs and scored two goals or less in 45 of those games. Quite simply, they need scoring and they need some good wingers, particularly on Scott Gomez’s flank.

So let’s take a look at the Rangers:

Henrik Lundqvist
Stephen Valiquette

No reason to make any changes here, this is Henrik’s 4th year in the N.H.L. and the first that he has not been one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy. He also is the first goalie in N.H.L. history to win at least 30 games in each of his first four seasons. Valiquette has flourished in his role as a backup goalie.

Marc Staal-Dan Girardi
Michal Rozsival-Wade Redden
Paul Mara-Derek Morris

Mara and Morris are unrestricted free agents and I doubt either will be back. However, I would like to see Mara return in a seventh-defenseman role, where he could also be a mentor to some of the young d-men. The Rangers hope that this year’s Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy out of Boston U. is ready to man their point on the power play and the Blueshirts are also hopeful that prospect, Bobby Sanguinetti, is ready to make the leap to the N.H.L. level after spending a year in Hartford. New York is doing a good job of building a very solid core of defenseman.

Markus Naslund-Scott Gomez-Ryan Callahan
Lauri Korpikoski-Chris Drury-Nikolai Zherdev
Sean Avery-Brandon Dubinsky-Nik Antropov
Fredrik Sjostrom-Artem Anisimov-Aaron Voros

Naslund has one year remaining on his deal that he signed last summer. Gomez and Callahan work well together, but the Rangers need a bona fide score to take Naslund’s spot. Naslund would be better served on the third line. Blair Betts, a superb penalty killer, must be resigned. I doubt Zherdev or Antropov will be brought back. Sjostrom is a free agent and should be signed as he is perfect in his role as a penalty killer/energy guy. I doubt that Voros will return. Korpikoski and Anisimov are good prospects, the former deserves a good luck in training camp and could become a top six forward, while the latter may need another year of seasoning in Hartford.

Meanwhile, Larry Brooks of the New York Post has some bold ideas for the Blueshirts. Click here to read.

Tortorella also admits the water bottle incident was a mistake here.

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