It’s year 1 of the blueshirts rebuild and with a ton of young players and new head coach the expectations are not nearly as high as previous years.
By: Chris Yackel
There is an unfamiliar feeling for several longtime New York Rangers in the locker room entering training camp. For the first time lifelong Rangers like Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Krieder, Jesper Fast and “The King” Henrik Lundqvist will be experiencing a training camp with low expectations. For the first time these players will be apart of a rebuild. Although this process could be long in grueling there are a lot of young exciting prospects in training camp this year for the Rangers.
Gone are the times of veteran star players such Rick Nash, Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. In now are the youngsters such as Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and Neal Pionk. These are different times on broadway, but different doesn’t have to lack excitement. Many of these new young player’s posses loads of talent speed and skill. It is just all about developing them and that starts with the the new head coach.
Quinn’s tough task
No that’s not Mike Sullivan behind the blueshirts bench this year. Although they look alike (and sound alike) David Quinn was hired out of Boston University this past May and was given a king’s ransom amount of money to do it. With $12 million dollars coming Quinn’s way over the next five years the Rangers are putting a lot of faith in a man that hasn’t coached at the NHL level in quite some time. Quinn has also never been a head coach in the NHL.
The Rangers are entrusting Quinn to develop the Rangers young players and mold them into great NHL talent. It’s a tough task, but the perfect task for Quinn. Quinn is the type of coach that works great with young players and is great at developing young players. He also does a great job of holding players accountable and being firm, but fair. This is exactly the type of coach the Rangers need during the rebuild. He won’t hold back young players or lower their ice time for mistakes and will let his youngsters learn from them. This is a drastic difference from the Rangers last head coach.
Quinn will grow with the team and hopefully for the Rangers mold his young team to a perennial cup contender. There however will be MANY bumps along the road, many losses, many nights where Quinn will have to make tough decisions, perhaps on some veteran players. This is a tough task for Quinn, but one that is all about the long term. If he does his job developing the young talent, the light at the end of the tunnel will be extremely bright.
The Rangers lineup will be a lot younger than in previous years. There are plenty of young faces, but also many familiar faces from a season ago. Especially towards the end of the year. The Rangers are very deep at the center ice position and have a solid deep group of forwards. The defense is a different story after Brady Skjei there are a lot of question marks. This includes Kevin Shattenkirk who was injured most of last season and had offseason surgery. It also includes Marc Staal. Many have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. Staal had a nice bounce back season last year, but he’s 32 and a very old 32.
There are a lot of miles on that body. There are also several questions surrounding this lineup. Will Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes stick around long term? Or will they be traded at the deadline? My guess is both of them will. How big of a role will Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson play in this lineup? Will Brendan Smith come back and have a bounce back season? So many questions. An entire season to see it all play out.
Does King Henrik Truly Embrace the Rebuild?
At 36 years old Henrik Lundqvist is for sure in the last couple of years of his career. He however is not playing like a 36-year-old whatsoever. King Henrik is still an incredible goalie who last season on a terrible team still managed a .916 save percentage. There is one question though. Does he truly have the patience to be in a rebuild at the end of his career.
Although he has said several times he is on board with plan and wants to be a Ranger for life, there is a competitive side in Hank that might not be able to take the losing. Lundqvist is the ultimate competitor and if the Rangers are struggling beyond belief during the season, maybe Henrik will change his mind. I’m not saying it will happen, but one has to wonder if it is possible.
The 2018-19 season is going to be a true test for the Rangers. Although little is expected of this squad, there are still a lot of things that need to be accomplished in order for this rebuild to progress instead of stay stagnant. David Quinn most prove he’s the man for the job and prove that he can handle tough situations. The team can’t be blown out every game and have to be in most games for the sake of Henrik Lundqvist. Finally, many of these young players like Chytil and Andersson need to not only prove they are ready to be full time NHL’ers, but they can be great full time NHL’ers and leaders for this rebuild going forward.
Ultimately, I think Lundqvist’s patience will be tested to the limit and there will be games they get blown out. I also think more nights than not they will play in a lot of one goal games and be a tough test for teams. I think Chytil and Andersson will both have great years and it will result in positive signs going forward.
Final Record Prediction: 33-39-10, 76 points, 7th in Metropolitan Division
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