With the departure of the likes of Jesper Fast, Greg McKegg and Marc Staal, it was obvious the Rangers were going to need some new faces on the PK. Who those faces will be have been revealed as the team closes out their camp ahead of tomorrow night’s season opener against the New York Islanders.
Unsurprisingly, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba all feature on defense, as will free agent signee Jack Johnson. Trouba lead all players for the team last year with 175 minutes of short handed ice time, though his average of 2:30 a night did trail both Marc Staal – 2:44 and Brady Skjei – 2:32 on defense. Lindgren ranked fourth among defenders with a total of 129:32 and 2:10 a night.
By contrast, Adam Fox will see his first test on the kill, where he managed just 9:04 over the course of his rookie season, though all indications suggest that he’ll be able to manage the added responsibility. While Jack Johnson is far from a fan favorite, he did put up the most PK time for the Penguins blueliners last year, with over 147 minutes, and was tied with Kris Letang with 2:12 on average per 60 minutes.
Of the other two options, Tony DeAngelo played just 3 minutes short handed last year, and K’Andre Miller of course is entering his first professional season, though could well develop into a depending option either as the season progresses or in the future.
On forward there are more shakeups, with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich both being picked for short handed duty. Kreider’s maturity and speed offer an interesting dimension that might make opponents a little more cautious at the blueline to avoid a potential breakaway shorthanded chance. As for his linemate, Buchnevich is coming off what has been described as a very good camp, though perhaps is one of the more surprising choices. He has just 6:05 of shorthanded time in his 247 NHL games, and is largely an unknown quantity on the PK.
All the new faces mean the team will go into the season with a relatively unproven PK line-up, though given they were ranked 23rd last year with a 77.4 success ratio, there’s perhaps room to try something different.