The New York Rangers are preparing to begin another run at the Stanley Cup, looking to make an improvement after last season’s bitter end. After multiple offseason acquisitions and hirings, the Rangers hope they find themselves in a better place than last year. However, there is a chance that fans may live to watch a repetitive disappointing performance.
Quick may not be a suitable backup for Shesterkin
Once Jaroslav Halak decided to hit the free agency market, the Rangers chose to sign veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick to a one-year deal. Although Quick is most likely a future Hall of Fame player, he is currently playing at the tail end of his career. Over the last few seasons, Quick’s stats have seen a significant decline and this may prove to be a liability to the Rangers.
After notching only 16 wins throughout the 2023 season, the Rangers must find a way to bring more out of Quick. One of the biggest reasons why the Rangers have failed to achieve playoff success comes from star goalie Igor Shesterkin being overplayed and drained by the time the regular season ends.
The Rangers must let Shesterkin rest as much as possible, having confidence in a backup to handle the not-so-important games throughout the year. Quick may be a great goaltender career-wise, but he may not be the answer right now.
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The kids may not break out as the Rangers hope
After the Rangers signed Alexis Lafreniere to a two-year extension, it became clear that new head coach Peter Laviolette has big plans for the younger players on the team. Although it would be hard to execute, there are rumors of Lafreniere shifting to the right side in order to play in a top-six role. It’s somewhat of a risk, as Lafreniere has had many fans questioning why the Rangers chose him first overall in 2020.
“On the player himself, the Lafreniere contract is probably seen as “too much” to a vocal subset of the fanbase that is already calling him a bust. That’s a bit unfair, at least in my opinion, but there are valid concerns with his lack of development and rumored off-ice commitment challenges.”via Blue Seat Blogs
Kaapo Kakko is also projected to play on the first line alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. While he is just beginning to break out, this line has the potential to be excellent if played properly.
With the Blueshirts putting their faith in two of their young potential stars, there is a lot of pressure for them to succeed in 2023. Lafreniere has only tallied 91 points in 216 career games, and Kakko has provided similar numbers. In order for the Rangers to meet expectations, these two will certainly need to up their game and put on a stellar showing. If they don’t, the overall success of the team could be in jeopardy.
The Rangers’ salary cap situation could haunt Drury deep into the season
After the Lafreniere signing, the Rangers are currently around $50 thousand over the salary cap limit. The current situation shouldn’t lead to any cap penalties, as Rangers GM Chris Drury should easily be able to clear the team back below the limit. However, it provides very little wiggle room for the cap-strapped Blueshirts.
The NHL’s trade deadline is one of the most entertaining times of the season, as teams make unbelievable trades in order to prepare themselves for a deep postseason run. With the Blueshirts having little cap space to work with, it will be incredibly difficult to make any moves when the deadline rolls around.
If the current Rangers roster does not succeed, the team will be set up for failure. It’s safe to say that there won’t be any Patrick Kane-level trades in 2023.