The New York Rangers are here to stay folks. I am calling it. The rebuild is over and I don’t give a hoot who says otherwise! The Rangers have fought and battled every step of the way this season in the NHL’s toughest division. The youngest team in the NHL, after 62 games, are starting to figure things out. That is a scary prospect for the rest of the league, as this wasn’t supposed to be the year this team competed.
The Rangers have now won a franchise-record eight straight on the road. They have now put together two four-game winning streaks in the past nine contests and have won 8 out of 10 overall. Mind you, they have beaten the Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets, Jets and Wild during this streak of games (all teams in or within playoff contention). This streak wasn’t put together against lower-level competition.
The Baby Blueshirts have done all this around a tumultuous trade deadline in which John Davidson and Jeff Gorton had to decide which way this franchise was going to go this season. This was amidst the news the our STUD rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin (Shesty) and fellow-Russian Pavel Buchnevich (Buchy) got into a pretty significant car crash the day before the trade deadline. Quite the wrench thrown at JD for his first trade deadline as the New York Ranger president, huh? Shesty fractured a rib (reevaluated in 2 weeks) and Buchy was banged up, but is Day-to-Day. Scary stuff, but they avoided any serious injuries, thank goodness.
JD and Gorton had to decide if they were going to be sellers at the deadline for a third straight season, and set themselves up well for the future? Or would they resign a 29-year-old Kreider (who was looking for a seven year deal), and put their faith that the rebuild was closer to the end than the beginning and give this team a chance to make a run at the playoffs.
For JD and Gorton, the answer lied in between. The Rangers locked up the 3rd longest tenured Ranger in Kreider and said fook it, let’s ride this out!
Now, I am seeing some complaints from Ranger fans and media members about the length. Seven years is long, no doubt. Will the last 2-3 years be a problem with a 35+ year-old CK, who’s game is built on power and speed? Probably. However, indulge me for a second.
This team is clearly showing that they are closer to competing this year than anyone expected. With all of the young talent coming up in the next two years, the Rangers Cup window is opening as we speak. Hank’s, Staal’s, and Smith’s contracts are all coming off the books after next season. If CK, who is in peak physical shape, can give this team a good 4-5 years of play, at $6.5 mill a year, his contract will pay for itself.
The Baby Blueshirts need these type of players to lead the way. Kreider is the exact type of player that the playoff teams covet, which is why his market value was so high during the trade deadline. If the Rangers traded him, they would have been looking for the exact same type of player to put them over the top in the next few years. To me, the risk of him declining in 4-5 years is worth having a stud power forward for the next 3-4 years.
JD and Gorton not only helped the team for the near future, but they were able to pick up a 1st round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for Brady Skjei. Skjei was a nice dude, but so inconsistent over the last few years. His best play came during his rookie year and has been downhill ever since.
In securing another 1st Round pick, the Rangers solidified two picks in the Top 40 of the next draft. A draft that is speculated to be very top heavy with a fall-off after the first 40-50 players. Also, they Rangers will save $5 million per year over the next few years by trading Skjei. This will allow the team to sign back Tony D, who is a bigger part of this defenses future.
Considering all this, I think JD and Gorton did a great job at the deadline. Yes, they probably could have sold off Strome or Fast for some additional picks, but that would hurt this year’s team. This young team needs to go through a playoff race such as this. It will help build confidence and experience that will server them well in the future. BIG ups to JD and Gorton for building this thing the right way, while still giving this team a fighting chance this year. After all, we are one of the hottest teams in the league!
Mr. Glass-Half-Full’s Take:
Man, what a monster week it’s been so far. The trade deadline day press conference on Monday, followed by a massive win at the Coliseum yesterday versus the Islanders. I can’t underscore how massive the win was given the upcoming schedule.
I want to stay patient through this year, but it is now getting so hard to do so. The Rangers are playing meaningful hockey games in March for the first time in 3 years. They may or may not fall short, due to being in the best division in the league (even after winning 11 of 14 games, they remain in 7th place in the division! WTF). This doesn’t make this team and run any less fun.
Whatever the result, I love this squad and the fight they are showing. Quinn and Co. are doing a helluva job coaching and developing this young team and they are going to give every team their best shot night in and night out.
Lastly, while the Shesty injury is brutal (he’s had the best start of any rookie goalie in a Rangers uniform), it allows for Hank to get back into the mix and play in several games over the next 2+ weeks. Wouldn’t it be something if he could get hot and be a big factor in getting this team to the playoffs? The other side of the injury is it gives Georgiev more exposure in big-time games. It allows the Rangers and other teams to see what he can do as a #1 guy when the limelight is on him.
I, for one, am excited for all of this stuff to unfold over the next few weeks. Regardless of the outcome, the Rangers have shown us that the future is bright and being a true contender is coming sooner rather than later. One thing is for sure…..these last 20 games are going to be fun.