Rangers GM believes this team has players who play with ‘jam’ to be successful

Rangers
Credit: Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TOD

New York Rangers general manager Cris Drury feels the current crop of players can bring grit and strength to the ice every night.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury and new head coach Peter Laviolette appear to be on the same page as they prepare for the upcoming 2023-2024 season. The Rangers’ rookies had their second day of practice in Tarrytown, NY on Thursday and Drury defended the team he has assembled heading into training camp next week.

At Peter Laviolette’s press conference earlier this summer, he talked about how the regular season in its entirety needs to prepare the Rangers for playoff hockey.

Drury continued with that theme during Thursday’s media session before the rookie’s practice.

“I’ve always felt, even back when I played, there’s no switch they could just flick,” Drury said. “Your intentions and how you go about your business in training camp, at the start of the season, in the middle of the season, at the end of the season – you have to really create your identity so that, when you get into big games during the regular season and if we’re fortunate enough to get in the playoffs, you’re ready to go and play the style that’s needed.”

Vince Mercogliano of Lohud

Bringing a gritter identity to the Blueshirts

A tougher, grittier identity is what the Rangers are trying to bring to the ice this season. They look to follow the plan of teams like the Florida Panthers who fought hard to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and found themselves in the Finals weeks later.

Drury signed some players who he feels bring the “jam” to the game every night. He signed Blake Wheeler, Nick Bonino, and Tyler Pitlick on the first day of free agency. However, Drury also realizes these three alone can’t get the job done, but he still believes this team has that grit they are looking for when he was asked about it yesterday.

“I think we do,” Drury said. “(Blake) Wheeler plays hard. (Tyler) Pitlick plays hard and Jimmy (Vesey) has certainly transformed his game to play harder. We know (Barclay Goodrow) does. (Nick) Bonino is not scared of the greasy areas of the game. I think we do have a lot of pieces that can play like that and will push our skill guys to play like that.”

Merrcogliano

The Rangers will also need to lean heavily on its core of veterans to play a tougher style of hockey. Drury believes that his free agent signings, along with the current lineup of players, can play the style of hockey the club wants to deploy. This will mitigate any need to bring in veteran players on a PTO.

A new coach, along with a more identifiable attitude on the ice, is the result of a disappointing ending to last season, which saw the Rangers build a 2-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs, only to lose the series in seven games.

Line combinations and defensive pairings will be changed and altered throughout camp and the regular season. It’s apparent now what can not be changed is the team’s new identity. One that needs to show feistiness, a hard-hitting game, and tenacity not seen by the Blueshirts since the days of Adam Graves, Steve Larmer, and Esa Tikkanen.

Othmann takes turn at Right Wing

A topic of conversation during Drury’s media session centered around Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann and the possibility of him switching over to the right side. Drury said lineup decisions would be the responsibility of the head coach, but he anticipated that both Othmann and Alexis Lafreniere would get a chance to play on the right side during camp.

During rookie practice on Thursday, Othmann did just that and will surely see some time there during the team’s two games against the Philadelphia Flyers rookie on Friday and Saturday.

Othmann feels he can play both left and right wing despite playing only the left side before arriving here in New York this summer.

“I can play both,’’ Othmann said. “I know it says I’m a left winger on [my player bio] but I think that I can play the right wing as well.’’ 

Follow Frank on X at @RangerProud