For years the Rangers were the team that overspent on aging players and ended up with diminished returns and early tee times. The organization shed that reputation in recent years, but additions like Marcus Naslund and Wade Redden might rekindle some unkind memories. It will be interesting to see how the dressing room dynamic changes in the post-Jaromir Jagr era, but Henrik Lundqvist has been and will continue to be the key to success in Manhattan.
NEW YORK RANGERS
2007-08: 42-27-13, 97 points (third in Atlantic)
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Pittsburgh in second round
WHAT WENT RIGHT: King Henrik continued to be one of the game’s elite goaltenders. Young players like Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal and Nigel Dawes proved to be good compliments to the Broadway stars. A playoff series victory against cross-river rival New Jersey is never a bad thing.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Despite all of the star power, scoring goals proved to be a problem at times for the Blueshirts. Jaromir Jagr lead the team in goals and points, but his totals were far short of his expected production. The two big free agent additions, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, were solid but also probably didn’t reach the offensive numbers fans hoped for. Neither of them found any chemistry with Jagr either, which proved to be a bit of a saga until Jagr settled in on a line with Dubinsky.
DEPARTURES: RW Jaromir Jagr, LW Sean Avery, LW Martin Straka, LW Brendan Shanahan?, D Fedor Tyutin, D Christian Backman
IMPACT PROSPECTS: C Artem Anisimov, LW Lauri Korpikoski, D Bobby Sanguinetti
Who is going to be the wings?
With Gomez, Drury and Dubinsky the Rangers are set down the middle, but they need to figure out which guys will flank them. Shanahan still hasn’t found a home, so he could still be part of the solution. Newcomers Naslund and Zherdev are going to be counted on heavily and a bounce back campaign from Petr Prucha would also be a huge help.
Will Wade Redden rebound in his new environment?
Redden has not put up the same offensive numbers the past two seasons as he had in his Ottawa heyday, but the Rangers certainly paid him like he had. If Redden struggles, expect him to quickly replace Jagr as enemy No. 1 for the home fans at Madison Square Garden. The same can also be said for Naslund.
PROGNOSIS: With or without Shanhan, the Rangers are clearly taking a risk by relying on Naslund and Zherdev, two of the more mercurial snipers in the league. The defense could be very good, but it might have more to do with Staal’s ascension than the addition of Redden. Where does this leave the Rangers? About the same place they were last season, not likely to win the division but in contention for a playoff seed in the 4/5 range. A potential addition (Shanahan or Mats Sundin) would throw a wrinkle into things, but not necessarily make the Rangers favorites in the Eastern Conference.
|Markus Naslund||Scott Gomez||Nikolai Zherdev|
|Nigel Dawes||Chris Drury||Petr Prucha|
|Patrick Rissmiller||Brandon Dubinsky||Fredrik Sjostrom|
|Blair Betts/Aaron Voros||Dan Fritsche||Ryan Callahan/Colton Orr|
|Michal Rozsival||Wade Redden|
|Daniel Girardi||Marc Staal|
|Dmitri Kalinin||Paul Mara|
|Thomas Pock||Bobby Sanguinetti|
*NOTE: This is not necessarily an attempt to guess line combinations