Close, But Not Close Enough
In a hard fought battle between the warriors of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers were sent back to the to the golf courses on May 9, after six games. They lost to the Ottawa Senators, who received Derick Brassard from New York, and in a close-dominating fashion.
The season was bright for the Rangers all year; while they weren’t in the Top Three for an extremely tough Metropolitan Division, they were still ahead of the first place team in the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens.
It’s a disappointing drive to the golf course for the team now. The Rangers took an impressive series against the Canadiens, winning in six games. It was a hard-fought physical series that the Rangers took pride in winning. However, a strong Senators team, including Brassard, was able to overtake the Rangers.
The Ring-less King
Even though the Rangers didn’t take the series, Lundqvist had an impressive .910 Save Percentage and a 2.74 Goals Against Average throughout the season. The fan-titled “King” has never taken home the Stanley Cup, and with his age and deteriorating body, he may never able to have the accomplishment of doing so.
Lundqvist ran into injury troubles this season that may keep him from playing much longer. The injury that brought concern to the team this season was the hip injury suffered in March. Other injuries from past seasons included neck spasms and a blood vessel strain. He seems to have a major injury once per season, but bounces back to take the team to the playoffs and have some success.
The King has had many chances at the Stanley Cup. He has only missed the playoffs once with his tenure with the New York Rangers, and that was during the 2009-2010 season. The closest he ever came was in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, where the Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
However, the Rangers have hope, despite the increasing age of Lundqvist, to make the playoffs over the next couple seasons, and possibly bring the Cup back to New York for the first time since 1994, when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks. The team is young, with an average age of 27 years old. The team has had productive veterans, including Mats Zuccarello, and Rick Nash. The Rangers are also looking forward to new and upcoming stars, including the ever-popular Jimmy Vesey (a first year player from Harvard) and JT Miller (in only his second full season, right behind Zuccarello in points). Both players look to improve even more next season.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) August 19, 2016
No Brassard, No- Well…There is a Problem
Brassard was traded to the Ottawa Senators during the summer before the season started. He was traded for Mika Zibanejad (and a second round 2018 Draft Pick). He had 58 points during the 2015-2016 season (27 G, 31 A).
However, Zibanejad had an excellent season, considering he played 25 less games than last season. He scored 37 points on the season in 56 games (14 G, 23 A). Brassard only had 39 points this season (14 G, 25 A). Brassard is lighting up the playoffs with the Senators right now with nine points (3 G, 6 A). Zibanejad Also had nine points in the short playoff run for the Rangers (2 G, 7 A).
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) July 18, 2016
Next season, both teams will be expecting more from the players that they received in the trade. The Rangers look to get more out of Zibanejad, for sure. However, the Rangers first have to secure Zibanejad, who is a restricted free agent this summer. He could be a vital part to the Rangers’ success in the next couple years, so a new deal might come about. The Rangers will sign Zibanejad, as they do have the cap room for him. He may have to take a little salary cut, but the Rangers do have room to take him on next season.
So Long, New York
There are a couple players who retired during the NHL season from the New York Rangers. Those players were strong players in their prime, and were leaders on and off the ice. Dan Boyle had a crazy career, jumping from team to team, ending with the Rangers for the past two seasons.
Boyle apparently never had his whole heart in the Big Apple, as he signed a one-day contract with the San Jose Sharks, just so he could retire as a Shark.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 5, 2016
Also, Matt Lindblad, who actually never saw ice time with the New York Rangers, is retiring from the team. He played eight games this season with their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack, due to numerous injuries throughout the season. He is currently serving as the professional scout for the Boston Bruins.
There’s Always Next Season…Maybe
The Rangers have been looking forward to next season for many years; the old mantra ‘next year will be our year boys’ is getting stale for many fans. New players, specifically young players need to step up and make their place in the Blueshirts lore, because the old guard won’t be able to do the heavy lifting forever.
The Rangers now need to decide who to protect for the expansion draft, and decide who to let go in free agency to clear some cap space. They will most likely protect Lundqvist to keep the king in New York, but out of all the goaltenders in the NHL, I don’t see the Rangers getting poached between the pipes. Instead, I predict the Rangers will be stripped of one of their defensemen. Most likely Nick Holden or Brady Skjei will be heading to Las Vegas.
But for now, to the golf courses the team will go, awaiting next season to hopefully bring a Cup back to New York.