The puck drops tonight, opening the Rangers season, a season they hope finishes with a return to conference finals and beyond. Last seasons dissapointing finish to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins, left a sore spot in many of the returning veterans. That sore spot motivating people like Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi is critical to any potential success of the Rangers.
General Manager Gorton did a fine job up front adding Mika Zibanejad at the expense of Derick Brassard, signing Pavel Buchnevich to a entry level contract and signing free agent coup Jimmy Vesey. Adding this young talent and deleting, Dominic Moore, and Tanner Glass gives the Rangers a nice young core up front to keep building around. Training camp standout Brandon Pirri showed great hands during the pre season but remains a if, until he shows the season long commitment to finally establish himself as a top six player. He will start that journey centering the fourth line and seeing power play duty on the point. Pirri is in a position to make a real impact, and make his acquisition a steal For Gorton.
The defense unfortunately returns many of the same faces, that floundered last season in Coach Vigneault’s system. Arguably last seasons best defenseman Keith Yandle, and the curious acquisition Dan Boyle who’s puck carrying skills never worked in Vigneault’s move the puck quick system, are both gone replaced by Nick Holden, Adam Clendening and late season callup Brady Skjei. Clendening started camp strong offensively putting up points which decreased as opposition teams stiffened their lineups. It will be interesting to watch Nick Holden and his contribution, because his training camp was pretty ordinary. Brady Skjei looks like he’s sticking around although he could be sent to Hartford without being lost on waivers. His training camp was also very ordinary,. It appears he is on the team, and the Rangers are rumored to be looking to trade a bit of a fan favorite in Dylan McIlrath.