What will the Rangers’ power play look like in 2023?

mika zibanijad, rangers

The New York Rangers have had an eventful offseason, signing multiple players, letting some stars walk, and bringing in an entirely new coaching staff. There seems to be a common consensus of how the new 5v5 lines will look this season, but the two power-play units seem to be undetermined. Here are some possible changes that the Rangers may look to make to their power play units heading into the 2023-2024 season.

The first Rangers power-play unit: Mika Magic leads the pack

The main core for the first power play unit will likely look similar to that of last season’s. Mika Zibanejad will undoubtedly center, with Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin remaining as well. Adam Fox will continue to act as an offensive defenseman, but that leaves one open spot on the first unit.

Toward the end of last season, that spot was filled by superstar Patrick Kane. But with him likely off to another team, the Rangers need to fill that role. The only major offensive signing the Rangers made this offseason came in the form of Blake Wheeler, but it might be better for the team to look for a returning player to fill their final power-play spot.

New head coach Peter Laviolette has made it clear that he intends on giving the kids a chance to play as many minutes as possible. An open spot on the first power play unit seems to be the perfect opportunity to give more ice time to Kaapo Kakko. If Panarin were to join Fox closer to the blue line and act as a second quarterback to the power play, there would be plenty of room for Kakko to excel closer to the net alongside Kreider and Zibanejad. The first unit of Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko-Panarin-Fox seems almost too promising to pass up.

The second Rangers power-play unit: A chance for veteran Blake Wheeler to shine

While Wheeler may be a bit old, the veteran still tallied over 50 points last season, proving he can still produce. An experienced forward like Wheeler would be a perfect addition to the second power-play line. This could also be an opportunity to let Alexis Lafreniere shine with some special teams ice time as well, giving him the minutes he deserves but not as much as a more promising Kakko.

“I know that I’m still capable of playing a big role and playing big minutes. I can still play at a high level and play with good players.”

Blake Wheeler via SNY

The second unit center is somewhat interchangeable between Vincent Trocheck and Filip Chytil. Trocheck is more experienced and produced more points last season, but Chytil is finally breaking out of his shell and proving his worth to the team. It could be possible that the Rangers swap the two centers in and out of the power play from game to game. It’s also possible to have both play on the power play, with one acting as a winger rather than their natural position.

The biggest change that should be made is the defenseman on the second power play. That role is currently being filled by the captain, Jacob Trouba. While Trouba has aspects of his game that he truly excels in, offensive production is not one of them. It seems foolish to have the captain playing on the power play when the Rangers have a more than capable offensive defenseman in K’Andre Miller on the bench. If the second power-play unit were to consist of Lafreniere-Trocheck-Wheeler-Chytil-Miller, it could almost rival the skill of the first.