It is a great time of the year to be a Ranger on the ice and off the ice. With the Rangers enjoying a race for the Presidents Trophy for having the best overall record, the Rangers are about to get their best player back from an extended injury stint. The Rangers are about to get their best player back after being given the clearance from the medical staff from his neck injury. As great as it is to have one of the best goalies in the world back in the Rangers lineup soon, the teams locker room has to adjust to his return. It was clear the team took the night off against the Kings in a drubbing that had them look like a hot mess on the ice as they already knew that the King was back. The Rangers looked like the exhailed and let their foot off the gas and it showed with a bad performance. At this time of year, the Rangers can not aford to let their game slip and readjust. The Rangers need to battle harder and make the adjustment to having Lundqvist back between the pipes as flawless as they did when Cam Talbot took over after the King's injury in leading the Rangers to the great run they have enjoyed. The Rangers need to work harder and make Henrik Lundqvist's comeback as easy as possible while getting ready for the playoffs in approximately 3 weeks.
The Rangers now have a huge trade chip in Cameron Talbot this coming summer with how he carried the Rangers while Hank was out injured. With a cap hit of only $1.45 million for next season, it would only be fair to give him a chance to be a starter somewhere and get either another teams top level prospect, a top 9 forward, or a 1st round pick. The bar was set last year when the team from Newark traded the #9 overall pick for Cory Schnieder when he had a cap hit of around $4 mil. Teams to expected to be in the biding are Edmonton, San Jose, and Toronto as they all have a need for a #1 goalie next season. Mackenzie Skapski has shown that he could be ready for a backup role next season along with NHL jouney man Cedrik Desjardins and with Brandon Halverson still at least 2 years away, the Rangers could pick up a cheap backup this summer.
Watching Dan Boyle play lately makes you wonder if he figured out that he might be a cap casualty next season and only has this year to go for the Cup just like Brad Richards last season. With the Rangers already having Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, and Keith Yandle under contract next year, it would seem that Dan Boyle and his $4.5 mil cap hit will be gone and used towards the forwards signings. The Rangers have a few options for a 6th dman in Brady Skjei, Matt Bodie, Connor Allen, or do they finally give Dylan McIlrath a shot to try as a regular on the NHL level as all would be under a $1 mil cap hit.
This summer the Rangers will have some real decisions to make and players such as Martin St. Louis, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast although seeming like locks for next year, may have to fit what the Rangers have within their cap structure or be used as part of deals or allowed to walk or sign offer sheets with the Rangers getting compensation except for MSL who is an UFA.
So with alot of changes may be happening in the players heads while playing for their next contracts along with the addition of Henrik Lundqvist this week and the additions on Martin St. Louis and Kevin Klein within the next week or so, the Rangers locker room needs to be as "together" as it was without these top level players.
SO LET'S KEEP IT TOGETHER AND LET'S GO RANGERS!!!