How the Rangers stack up in the Metro following the offseason

Rangers G Igor Shesterkin in net

The big offseason moves for the New York Rangers have seemed to conclude, giving us a solid idea of what the finalized roster will look like this upcoming season. The team just recently finished third in the Metropolitan Division last season, landing themselves a solid divisional playoff spot. The question now is, where will they finish this year? The Blueshirts weren’t the only team making moves this offseason, and it should be an interesting race to see who finishes on top of the Metro in 2023.

Analyzing the opposing Metro offenses

There are three teams in the Metropolitan division that have elite forward corps- the Carolina Hurricanes, the New Jersey Devils, and the New York Rangers. While teams like the Penguins or the Islanders have stars like Sidney Crosby and Mat Barzal, the overall forward groups do not compare to the top three.

The best part about the Hurricanes’ offense is their depth. Players like Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, and Sebastian Aho give Carolina an elite top six. The Hurricanes’ depth goes so far that they even have Teuvo Teravainen down on the fourth line. It’ll be difficult for any goaltender, even Igor Shesterkin, to stop them from scoring.

The New Jersey Devils also have a solid offensive group. After signing Timo Meier to a massive extension this offseason, they’ve pretty much solidified their top six for the future. This includes former first-overall pick Jack Hughes, drafted right before Kaapo Kakko, who tallied 99 points last season.

How do the Rangers’ forwards stack up?

The Rangers are the third team possessing an elite core of offensive talent in the Metro. Players like Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Vincent Trocheck will continue to produce, but it will be interesting to see how new players in the top six will perform.

Blake Wheeler was the biggest signing for the Rangers this offseason. Tallying 55 points last season, it will be interesting to see how he performs in new colors this year. His age may play a factor, possibly bringing his stat total down, but hopefully playing alongside Panarin and Trocheck will counteract that.

“After getting bought out by the Winnipeg Jets, the Rangers signed Wheeler for only $800,000. While he’s not the player he was in his prime, he’s still one of the better playmakers in the league and should be good for around 50-60 points in 2023-24.”

The Hockey Writers

Kaapo Kakko is also likely going to be playing on the first line next to Zibanejad and Kreider. He’s shown a lot of potential throughout his career, and this opportunity may be the final piece of the puzzle to have him finally break out into a star.

Overall, the Metropolitan division is stacked offensively. There will be a lot of high-scoring contests anytime any one of these teams play each other, but there’s no doubt that the Rangers have the ability to compete with the top dogs.

No shortage of elite defensemen in the Metro

Defense and goaltending are two aspects of hockey in which the Rangers excel. They have a star defenseman in Adam Fox and a top-three NHL goaltender in Igor Shesterkin. Last season, Fox totaled 72 points in 82 games, had a +28 plus/minus stat, and was a Norris Trophy finalist for the second time in his young career.

However, there are a lot of great defensemen throughout the Metro. The Capitals have John Carlson, the Hurricanes have Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns, and the Penguins are expected to go all in on 2023 Norris winner Erik Karlsson. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to elite defensemen in the Metro.

Overall, the only team that may outrank the Rangers defensively could be Carolina due to the amount of depth that they possess. Fox isn’t the only elite D-man on the Blueshirts though, as Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and K’Andre Miller all stand out tremendously. Once Braden Schneider gets a solid left-side partner, that third pairing could also explode with success.

Is Igor Shesterkin the key to the Rangers’ success in the Metro?

Goaltending is clearly a strong suit for the Rangers with Igor Shesterkin continuing to establish himself as one of the top goalies in the league. The only other Metropolitan goaltender that comes close to him is Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders. While the competition is close, the stats lean slightly in favor of Shesterkin.

What will the final standings look like in the Metropolitan Division?

While there may not be a clear number-one team in the Metropolitan division, the Rangers certainly have the ability to compete for the top spot. But New York will need to rely on their stars to pull through and give a complete, fully-fought 82-game season if they want a chance at taking home the division title.

It will be a tight race, but it’s safe to say that the top three teams in the Metro will remain the same- the Rangers, the Hurricanes, and the Devils. It should come down to the wire to see who finishes in which spot, but the Rangers are entering the 2023 season with a strong chance of winning the Metro.

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