The New York Rangers 2015-2016 hockey season started off with the reigning General Manager and Hall of Famer Glen Sather stepping aside and giving the job to his assistant Jeff Gorton. The Rangers had been successful going to the conference finals 3 of the last 4 years, but yet Sather felt that this was the best time to step aside? Makes one wonder why. Could it be that Sather had given up a boatload of draft picks to make those runs that fell short of the ultimate prize? Why Wouldn't he want to be the G.M. when the Rangers are so close, or are they? It's more like that he knew that this roster as it stood was going to be worn down by playing so many playoff games over the last 4 years and would start breaking down. The team he worked so hard to put together through drafts and amatuer free agent signings was do for a bigtime letdown and this is what we seem to see on the ice this season. These Rangers are still one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference but clearly a shell of what they have been over the last few years. The homegrown Rangers Stepan, M.Staal, Girardi, Lundqvist, Kreider, Miller, Zuccarello, Fast, Hayes, Lindberg, McIlrath, and Captain McDonagh all got there pro starts on the Blueshirts through drafts, trades as prospects, or free agents turning pro. Therer are still players such as Skjei, Buchnevich, Graves, and Gropp just waiting for next season to easily replace some on this years roster. This is stlll a "younger team with most dmen and the goalie getting closer to the end part of their prime.
Before the trade deadline, new G.M. Gorton had a choice of trading Yandle and recouping some of what the Rangers overpaid for him under Sather. Instead of selling a future unrestricted free agent, he traded away the next 2 drafts 2nd round draft choices and a prospect that looked pretty good on a very strong Finland team in this years Jr.'s championships. Gorton's first big move was to bring in Eric Staal to hopefully get his brother Marc and the Rangers offense motivated. Not only is E. Staal brothers of a Rangers core player, but he also payed on the same team with Rangers power forward Nash. Coach Vigneault is a big believer in line combo's of 2 players, not a full line. He now has solid combo's of Brassard-Zuccarello;Stepan-Kreider;E.Staal-Nash; Moore-Fast. Add in any of Hayes, Miller, Stralberg, Lindberg, or Glass. On paper this is a solid Rangers team. In reality, this is a very banged up and worn down team. The Rangers lineup has to all get healthy and start getting some chemistry so that hopefully this team can make a decent run in this years playoffs.
Are the Rangers playing possum to try and get the 1st playoff spot to get away from having to play the Islanders (who they DO NOT match up well against) and then if they win the 1st round, then they would have to play the Washigton Caps with whom they seem to play every year in the playoffs. If they were to get passed the 2nd round it would probably leave them with nothing left in the tank and would need a miracle to go any further. Now, if they were to be the 1st Wild Card, they would switch over to the Atlantic Conference and face the team that finishes 1st either Boston, Florida, or Tampa Bay which are all better matcups. No matter how you look at it, it would benifit the Raners to either play as a Wild Card and play the other conference or the Capitals in the 1st round when the Rangers have the most energy and the Caps still may fel some playoff nervousness. The key is that these Rangers have to get healthy fast. if the Rangers go 6 and 7, the Flyers would have to go 11-4 to knock them out as the closest team right now that could make the Rangers golf before the playoffs start. If some of these Rangers are "banged up" like the coach says in interviews, rest them so they can be as close to 100% for this years playoffs since he says he talked the new G.M. to "let this team get one more kick at the can".
The Rangers have their own destiny in their own hands, but I think their best chance is to sqeak in as the 1st wild card and not play within their own division once the playoffs start.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!