On February 8th, 2018, the New York Rangers announced to the world that they would be beginning a rebuild following a decade of elite Stanley Cup contention. Many of the older veterans were traded away or had their contracts bought out, and there was a high influx of fresh young talent.
For a few years, the Rangers were one of the most skilled young groups in the NHL. However, those young Rangers players are now getting older with each season that passes by. With another Cup window open, this growing age will either help or hurt the Blueshirts in either extreme.
The Rangers have one of the oldest lineups in the league
Per CapFriendly, the Rangers currently have an average roster age of 28.1 years. This is tied for the 11th oldest in the NHL with Nashville, Edmonton, and Calgary. The youngest team is Buffalo at 25.5, and the oldest is Pittsburgh at 30.8.
There is still promising, young talent on the roster
The Rangers still have some younger players to add some fresh youth to their current roster. Despite playing in a handful of seasons already, Alexis Lafreniere is still only 21 years old, while Kaapo Kakko is 22. Will Cuylle is the newest member of the Rangers following an incredible training camp, as he too is only 21 years old.
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Veteran leadership was added this offseason
While the Rangers do possess some remaining youth, many of their veteran players have gotten quite old. The Blueshirts’ projected opening night roster currently has 11 players of at least 30 years old, with Jonathan Quick and Blake Wheeler timing for oldest at 37.
“Sometimes just being in a new organization gives you a little extra juice. I’m in the league, and I feel like I have a lot of game left. Stepping on the ice with the quality of guys we have in this room, it’s exciting. I’m feeling younger than my birth certificate says right now.”Blake Wheeler via The Athletic
The team’s top stars are aging
Some noticeable stars that have reached 30 are Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, and Mika Zibanejad. With age will come skill regression, but none of these three have reached that point in their careers just yet. Despite growing older, these stars should still have a few elite seasons left in them.
How will growing older affect the Rangers’ upcoming season?
Despite being the 11th oldest team in the NHL, most of the league’s top contenders fall around a similar ranking. The top three oldest teams (PIT, WSH, NYI) are all projected to miss the 2023-24 playoffs, but every team following them is expected to make it.
With age comes experience and development, and the Rangers may be in their prime window to make a run for the Stanley Cup. The Blueshirts still possess youth that can bring speed and agility to the ice, but also some older players to intensify the physicality and checking.
The Rangers must be careful because even though age should not hurt them this upcoming season, that will not last for long. Certain players such as Panarin are signed for many years past their prime, and the Rangers could easily become trapped with aging, regressing players.