2 Rangers defenders that could break out in 2023

New York Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider (4) plays the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Madison Square Garden.
Oct 20, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider (4) plays the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers may have gotten somewhat older this offseason, however, they still possess young talent looking to make their mark in the NHL. The Rangers’ defense is filled with these young stars, such as their top defender Adam Fox, who is still only 25 years old. While Fox has already broken out into a top NHL defender, there are some players within the Rangers defense who are still looking for a breakout campaign in 2023.

Rangers’ third defensive pairing may see significant improvement

Braden Schneider has an opportunity for a massive breakout this upcoming season. Schneider has already solidified himself in a role on the third defensive line for the Rangers, but he’s still in the process of developing into a future star. Although offense isn’t his main contribution to the Blueshirts, it’s safe to say that there should be an improvement from his previous showing of 18 points in 81 games last year.

One factor that has held Schneider back is his lack of a long-term defensive partner. In the past, he’s been paired up with players who come and go, such as Ben Harper and Nikko Mikkola. However, the Rangers will likely find a permanent fit for the third left defenseman role this season. Whether it’s Erik Gustafsson, Zac Jones, or another sleeper option, having a solidified third pairing will help Schneider find his groove and begin to break out.

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“When expanding on his numbers, Schneider was at his best with Zac Jones, putting up a 48% shot share and a 49% expected-goals share. Not bad for a third pairing, but not great. These were far better than his numbers with Hajek (39% and 38%) and Harpur (42% and 40%)”

via Blue Seat Blogs

It’s clear that the Rangers intend on keeping Schneider around long term. Just last season, when the Rangers made an attempt at acquiring superstar Jack Eichel, they were unwilling to part ways with Schneider. While there is currently no room for Schneider to move up into a top-four defensive role, the Blueshirts will continue to develop him until that opportunity arises.

Miller’s point totals may continue to soar

K’Andre Miller is a player who is coming off of a stellar breakout campaign, but all signs are pointing towards his numbers improving even further in 2023. Heading into the year with a fresh two-year contract extension, Miller will look to prove his worth by the end of this short-term bridge deal.

After tallying 43 points in 79 games last season, Miller’s ceiling has increased. His defensive partner Jacob Trouba sticks back toward the Rangers’ own zone, leaving an abundance of opportunities for Miller to score. An increase in power play time will also assist in this breakout campaign.

If the Rangers play well, there is a chance Miller could hit 60 points in 2023. His offensive abilities are great, but now is the chance for him to become elite.

Although there are many complaints that Miller is somewhat of a defensive liability, the 23-year-old will aim to play more carefully this upcoming season.