The New York Rangers disappoint on opening night

New York Rangers

It is a good thing for the New York Rangers that they are not a Broadway play because based on last night’s performance, they would be closed down. In falling to the New York Islanders by the score of 4-0, the Rangers disappointed many by the way they were outplayed and outcoached in this contest.

Much of the Ranger’s difficulty did seem to come from a bundle of nerves as they fell behind the Islanders 3-0 after one period. The Islanders jumped on the Rangers early with a Brock Nelson power-play goal and an Anders Lee tally within the first four minutes of the first period. Matthew Barzal scored the third goal to cap the scoring, a goal that goalie Igor Shesterkin would normally have stopped.

Shesterkin became the first goaltender other than Henrik Lundqvist to start a season opener for the Rangers since Kevin Weekes in October 2005.

After the game, Rangers forward Chris Kreider described the game as “a good lesson for our young group tonight in the patient hockey needed to win at this level.” While praising the Islanders play, Kreider also mentioned that they relied too much on their “east-west game”, and to use the things they have been working on during the past week.

While praising the Islanders, a frustrated head coach David Quinn stated the Rangers “did not play fast enough, did not use their speed, and every time we got the puck we stood around to see who we could get the puck to and that approach does work well against anybody, let alone the Islanders.”

Quinn also knows that things need to get better quickly as the Rangers turn around and face the Islanders again on Saturday night at the garden. “We need to be quick learners,” Quinn said. “It might be a good lesson and a reminder for a bunch of guys who don’t have it in their hockey DNA to play the way we need them to tonight.”

Concerning the long-awaited debut of first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, and rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller, Quinn felt that they got to see what hockey was like at the professional level and that both players did get better as the game went on.

“Tonight was a great lesson for all of our players.”

The Rangers did have a chance to draw the game closer when they had a goal waved off at 9:15 of the second period when defenseman Jacob Trouba looked like he scored. The no-goal call stood after an official review, as the NHL stated that the “intended whistle” negated the goal.

While it was not exactly the start they wanted, it is important to remember that the average age of a player on the Rangers’ active roster entering the season is 25.5 years old, which is the youngest in the NHL. It was the first time in franchise history that seven players 22 or younger played in a season-opening game according to NHL Stats and Information.

Rangers fans are hoping that this young group has a short memory and are quick learners.

 

 

 

 

ESM’s New York Rangers 2020-2021 season preview

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are entering their 95th campaign in the National Hockey League. This season has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic, but the hard work during the offseason has kept the organization focused since last season concluded in the Toronto Bubble.

The club has been preparing for a marathon 56 game schedule, which begins on Jan. 14 against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden and concludes on May 8 in Boston against the Bruins.

Empire Sports Media writers Jim Bay and Frank Curto take a look at what has transpired since the Blueshirts were eliminated from the playoffs last summer in the qualifying round against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Team President John Davison, along with general manager Jeff Gorton is set to bring the youngest team in the NHL back to the playoffs in an attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994. Plenty of obstacles stand in their way, yet the team is set up for success as they play in the toughest division in the NHL this season.

Players come and go, but the one constant is the name on the front of the sweater. Here is a look at the upcoming season’s preview, oh baby, this is going to be a lot of fun.

Departures

Marc Staal
Jesper Fast
Henrik Lundqvist
Vinni Lettieri
Boo Nieves
Gregg McKegg
Michael Haley
Steve Fogarty
Lias Andersson

The Rangers traded veteran defenseman Marc Staal to Detroit on Sept. 26, 2020, and the forward Jesper Fast signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes. The toughest transaction was the buyout of 15-year veteran Henrik Lundqvist.

Arrivals

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Alexis Lafreniere
Kevin Rooney
Anthony Greco
Johny Brodzinski
Colin Blackwell
Anthony Bitetto
K’Andre Miller
Jack Johnson
Tarmo Reunanen
Keith Kinkaid

The Rangers selected the first overall selection in this year’s NHL Draft, Alexis Lafreniere. Gorton and Quinn have high expectations for the success of rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller as he looks to make the team out of training camp. Brendan Smith could be on the bubble with so many new faces on defense.

Goaltender Keith Kinkaid was originally brought in to help ease the team’s expansion draft requirement, but now could be a valuable asset in the Covid pandemic abbreviated season.

Offense

The first line will be led by Zibanejad, who was a goal-scoring machine last year with 41 goals in 57 games, a ridiculous 59-goal pace over a full season, with 15 of those coming on the power play. Zibanejad made some nice improvements in creating more chances at both even strength and on the power play, with the hope that the 15 percent and 26 percent rates continue into this season.

Kreider and Buchnevich will again flank Zibanejad on either side, and both have “analytically” graded out as productive top-six players for the team. The chemistry that the trio achieved was a huge reason why the Rangers improved so much in the second half of the season.

The second line will be anchored by Panarin, who will have Strome returning, will see Kakko added as his linemate to start the season.

What Panarin has brought to the Rangers is not only on-ice results but also how much of a positive influence he has on his linemates and teammates. This will hopefully hold true for Kakko, who showed signs of improvement upon returning to play in the summer after the league was paused due to the pandemic.

The bottom six is where the Rangers struggled last season. Help will come in the form of the first overall pick in the draft, Alexis Lafreniere.

It is tough to see how quickly Lafreniere will adapt to the NHL game with a small camp and no preseason games to evaluate his skills. However, many projection models have him getting 57 points this year. That may seem high for a first-year player, but with the skills that he brings to the team, this seems achievable.

Much of this may depend on his linemates. Chytil has been projected for improvement this year after being a negative goal contributor last season to an expected positive one this year. Gauthier presents some grittiness and size that could complement his linemates.

Howden will hopefully solidify the third line and has had a nice camp. During Zibanejad’s absence at the beginning of camp, Howden stepped in on the first line and did quite well. He also impressed those with his play during last summer’s playoffs. Lemieux provides the grit for this line, and hopefully, not too much-unwanted attention from the referees. Last season, Di Giuseppe provided the solid and steady play that you want to see from a bottom-six contributor.

Projected Opening Night Lineups- Forwards

Chris KreiderMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich
Artemi PanarinRyan StromeKaapo Kakko
Alexis LafreniereFilip ChytilJulian Gauthier
Brendan LemieuxBrett HowdenPhilip Di Giuseppe
Kevin Rooney

Defense

The defense will look to improve this season. Jacob Trouba will enter his second season on Broadway and needs to be better than he was last season. By his own acknowledgment, he was not happy with how things progressed, though he seemed more comfortable as the season concluded.

The dynamic duo of Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren was the highlight of the defense corp. The two rookies became stronger once they were paired together by former defensive coach Lindsy Ruff. With a year under their belt, the two could be the team’s top pair and see plenty of ice time once again.

The club has plenty of new faces on the back end, with rookie K’Andre Miller leading the way. Miller has been praised by the head coach in training camp earning a roster spot on opening night.

Jack Johnson along with Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith will be pushing each other early on to be in the lineup every night.

Projected Defense Pairings

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

K’Andre MillerJacob Trouba
Ryan LindgrenAdam Fox
Anthony DeAngeloJack Johnson
Brendan Smith

Projected Goalie

Igor Shestrkin
Alexandar Georgiev

Igor Shesterkin will take the reigns as the team’s number one goaltender this season. With such a condensed schedule, Alexandar Georgiev should expect more playing time and responsibility with the teams playing a marathon like a schedule.

Taxi Squad Projected Players

The taxi squad will be a big piece of the puzzle for the Blueshirts. With the AHL delaying the start of their season until Feb. 5, the Rangers are eligible to carry a minimum of 4 to a maximum of six players. These players can practice and travel with the team but are not on the active roster until they are recalled.

Anthony Bitetto
Colin Blackwell
Morgan Barron
Libor Hajek
Matthew Robertson
Keith Kinkaid

Predictions for the MassMutual North Division

  1. Philadelphia Flyers –  The Flyers were one of the most complete teams in the NHL last season, finishing in the top 10 in both goals scored and allowed. With their team from last year mostly intact, they are my favorite to win this division.
  2. Boston Bruins – Boston suffered some notable losses on the blueline in Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, and that might be enough to put them behind the Flyers. However, with a top offensive line and goaltending tandem, don’t be surprised to see them win this division.
  3. The Pens still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so you have to put them in the top four.
  4. Washington Capitals – The high scoring offense should carry them, put questions with their goaltending may them one of the leading contenders to get bumped by either the Rangers or Islanders.
  5. New York RangersThe Blueshirts have many obstacles with this season that will be difficult for a talented but a young team to overcome. A short training camp with no preseason games is not ideal for a young team, especially when you have the first overall in Alexis Lafreniere coming to town. Playing a 56 game season will not help either.
  6. New York Islanders – In addition to not wanting to put them ahead of the Rangers, this is still quite a mysterious team. Last season, they were two games from the Stanley Cup Final in spite of the fact they allowed more goals than they scored in the regular season.
  7. Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres did get better in the offseason, but playing against such tough divisional opponents every night will mean that they will finish ahead of only New Jersey.
  8. New Jersey Devils– The Devils hope that Jack Hughes will be better, but the Devils are still destined for the bottom of the division. The recent retirement of Corey Crawford will not help either. 

Team Awards

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

MVP: Artemi Panarin
Rookie of the Year: Alexis Lafreniere
Top Defenseman: Adam Fox
Most Improved: Kaapo Kakko
Players Player: Brendan Lemieux
Steven McDonald Extra Effort: Mika Zibanejad
Leading Goal Scorer: Mika Zibaenjad – 48G
Points Leader: Artemi Panarin- 90 Pts.

Schedule


Photo via NewYorkRangers.com

The unusual 56 game schedule will see the Rangers face only the other members of the temporary Eastern Division and will not have any preseason games for their young players, such as first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, to gel with their new teammates outside of the two-week training camp period.

One of the “benefits” of this schedule is that the Rangers will also get eight contests with some of the rivals, including the Islanders, Devis, and Flyers.

In this compact schedule, there are some important times that stand out over the slightly condensed schedule this season that commences for the Rangers on January 14.

Like in a horse race, it is important to get out of the gate well, and this will also be the case for the Blueshirts this season. Easier said than done, especially as they face the Islanders in their first two games to start the season. The opening stretch will also see the Blueshirts face the Devils, as well as four meetings split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.

February will be a challenging month as, on the 10th, the Rangers start a stretch of games with two against Boston before a two-game battle with the Flyers. They then head to Washington to play the Capitals twice, play the Flyers once more, capping things off with two more meetings with the Bruins. This stretch should show whether the Rangers are a true playoff contender or not.

After facing three games against Sabres and Devils, March will again see the Rangers run through a gauntlet of Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington for most of the month. If they are going to survive this stretch, they must reverse the fortunes of 2019-20 that saw the Rangers go a combined 0-5-1 against the Bruins and Flyers.

April will see the Rangers play many games against the Islanders, Devils, and Sabres. In fact, starting on April 9, the Rangers will have back-to-back road games against the Islanders and then play four straight against the Devils before capping it off with a final tilt with the Isles. Any chance to stay or get into playoff contention may hinge on the outcome of the games, against teams that the Rangers went 3-1 against (Islanders) and 2-2 (Devils) in 2019-20.

The Rangers will need their top players to play as they did last season. The pressure will be heavy once again on Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin to have consecutive great seasons shield the Blueshirts look to replicate last season’s playoff run.

Igor Shesterkin takes over for Henrik Lundqvist, huge skates to fill but something Shesterkin is capable of doing.

The wild card is the head coach himself. Dave Quinn and his coaching staff will walk a fine line between coaching the veterans, along with bringing the younger players through one of the most demanding schedules since the early 1970s.

There are no easy games this season, no time to take a night off.  A team that has a rich tradition along with high expectations from its fan base will need to find the right chemistry out of the gate in order to keep up with the teams within this division.

This season will be like no other. A schedule that has the Rangers playing each division opponent eight times, Covid protocols that will have games postponed and re-scheduling at almost a daily pace, and playing most games in front of little or no fans at all.

2020-2021 season will be the hardest battle of endurance and stamina the Rangers have ever encountered. The reward will be more precious should the team exceed their expectations.

It all begins Thursday night at the world’s most famous arena when the Rangers host the biggest rivals in the NHL.

Empire Sports Media Writers Predictions

We have some great writers at ESM, So Jim Bay and I asked what they predict will transpire in the upcoming season.

Brandon Schnapp
Most Goals: Panarin
Most Points: Zibanejad
MVP: Panarin
Best Defenseman: Fox
Rookie of the Year: Lafreniere
The team will miss the playoffs (Brandon is an Islanders fan, BTW)

Jim Bay
Most Goals: Panarin
Most Points:
Panarin
MVP:
Panarin
Best Defenseman:
Trouba
Rookie of the Year:
Shesterkin
Playoffs:
Not this year

Frank Curto
Most Goals: Panarin
Most Points: Zibanejad
MVP: Panarin
Best Defenseman: Fox
Rookie of the Year: Shesterkin
Playoffs: Yes, will be eliminated in the second round

New York Rangers announce 2020-2021 team roster

New York Rangers

 The New York Rangers announced their 22 man roster and taxi squad on the eve before the start of the 2020-2021 NHL season.

18 players were trimmed off the training camp lineup leaving the team with 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies.

Morgan Barron, Anthony Bitetto, Colin Blackwell, Jonny Brodzinski, Brandon Crawley, Gabriel Fontaine, Tim Gettinger, Anthony Greco, Libor Hajek, Adam Huska, Patrick Khodorenko, Keith Kinkaid, Darren Raddysh, Tarmo Reunanen, Justin Richards, Matthew Robertson, Austin Rueschhoff, and Tyler Wall were all removed from the Rangers’ active roster.

Rangers Roster

Forwards– Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden, Kaapo Kakko, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafrenière, Brendan Lemieux, Artemi Panarin, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Strome, Mika Zibanejad.

Defenseman– Tony DeAngelo, Adam Fox, Jack Johnson, Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Brendan Smith, Jacob Trouba.

Goaltenders– Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Taxi Squad– Morgan Barron, Anthony Bitetto, Colin Blackwell, Libor Hajek, Matthew Robertson, and Keith Kinkaid.

Brodzinski, Crawley, Fontaine, Gettinger, Greco, Huska, Khodorenko, Raddysh, Reunanen, Richards, Rueschhoff, and Wall have been assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

NHL Debut

This year’s first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft Alexis Lafreniere and the first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft K’Andre Miller will make their NHL debuts at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night when the Blueshirts host the New York Islanders in game 1 of their abbreviated 56 game schedule.

New York Rangers Training Camp Notes: Mika Zibanejad had COVID-19

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

As the New York Rangers season gets ready to kick off on Thursday, some interesting news came out of training camp, one of which being the status of star forward Mika Zibanejad. 

The Rangers’ star center told members of the media after practice on Monday that he feels good now but is taking things day-by-day. He was on the ice with familiar linemates Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider. It was also revealed that there are no guarantees that Zibanejad will play in the Rangers season-opener this Thursday against the New York Islanders.

The Rangers did not reveal this news as per league protocols, players who are placed on non-roster status due to COVID don’t need to be identified during training camp. That is not the case during the regular season.

Also coming out of training camp, head coach David Quinn has been experimenting with the defensive line pairings by having rookie K’Andre Miller skate with Jacob Trouba.

The duo was paired recently in a scrimmage that performed so well that might Quinn to keep them together for Thursday’s season opener.

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to see them together tonight,” Quinn said after Sunday’s scrimmage. “See what type of chemistry they had, see how they played off each other. Obviously, they did a really good job tonight. I thought it was a very good pair. I really like that ‘D’ pair, they certainly take up a lot of space.”

Finally, the Rangers announced that they have placed Colin Blackwell, Anthony Bitetto, and Anthony Greco, Keith Kincaid, Jonny Brokinski, Brandon Crawley, and Gabriel Fontaine on waivers. Blackwell, Bitetto, and Greco were signed to two-year deals in free agency.  Brodinski is on a one-year deal worth $700,000, and both Fontaine (171st overall in 2016) and Crawley (123rd overall in 2017) are on similar deals. Kincaid was expected to be on the taxi squad but some wonder if the goaltending starved New Jersey Devils might take a room at him.

 

New York Rangers Playoff Roster Could be Impacted by NHL Ruling

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers could be impacted by the NHL’s statement that teams should not be permitted to sign players from their respective reserve lists to 2019-20 contracts so they can participate in the upcoming tournament. This stance could affect whether players like Morgan Barron are included on the roster when the league resumes sometime this summer.

This became an issue last Tuesday when NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke on this matter during a Zoom video conference call with reporters when he referred to such potential roster additions as “ringers.”

“It would be our position, particularly given the advanced date and given the fact it could affect a lot of the players who might now be able to play the balance of the season, it may be unfair to let them play the balance of the season,” Daly said. “We’ve progressed past the trade deadline. Each team has kind of set its roster. Its roster reflects — and everybody will come back healthy, which is a benefit to the teams — its efforts in the 2019‑20 season.”

Ranger fans might remember when Chris Kreider was signed from Boston College after leading them to the NCAA title in 2012. It was also not an issue last year highly regarded defenseman Cale Makar followed a similar path out of college last season and debuted for Colorado during its first-round playoff series against Calgary.

Of course, we live in different times right now. Teams have been prohibited from signing players on their reserve list to contracts for the 2019-20 season since the league paused March 12 because of the pandemic. However, the NHL Players’ Association clearly does not agree with this stance, and the sides will continue to discuss the matter as they iron out the details on the return-to-play plan.

A little movement on this may have occurred on Sunday, when Daly confirmed in an email to the teams that the deadline to sign entry-level contracts was extended an additional month to July 1. This is at least a sign that young Rangers like Barron, K’Andre Miller, and/or Patrick Khoderenko to be part of the extended playoff roster. It is expected that teams will be allowed to carry slightly less than 30 skaters and an unlimited amount of goalies on their playoff rosters.

 

 

The New York Rangers silence on George Floyd due to decision by James Dolan

New York Knicks, James Dolan

In the city that never sleeps, the New York Rangers organization has been silent on the George Floyd death and the protests going on all across the country. An email by executive chairman and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company and executive chairman of MSG Networks James Dolan gives fans the reason why.

A Twitter post by Pablo S. Torre on Monday night added some light to the reason why the Rangers are one of the few NHL teams to make any statements about Floyd’s death.

In his post, Torre acknowledged that he received a copy of an email Dolan sent to MSG employees explaining why the organization has stayed silent. I also have confirmed from an MSG employee of the email and its legitimacy.  The highlights of his email centered around,

“We are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What’s important is how we operate. Our companies are committed to upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change.”

The email doesn’t give a specific reason why the organization decided not to make any public statements while other NHL teams have done so.

The Rangers have one African-American player in their organization, 2018 first-round pick K’Andre Miller.  He himself was a victim of racism after he signed his entry-level contract with the team. Miller was participating in a live Zoom interview when the site was hacked with racist slurs visible on the live chat feed by everyone including Miller.

Earlier on Monday, Miller released a statement about the Floyd murder and his personal attack he suffered in that virtual interview and throughout his young career.

The New York Knicks players were also reportedly furious that a statement was not released by MSG and Dolan. The email bears the question, How can one of the biggest cities in the country, who have had their share of racism over the years, simply ignore this tragedy?

Hockey Community Shows Support for the New York Ranger’s K’Andre Miller

New York Rangers

On Friday, New York Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller was subjected to a repeated racial slur from a hacker during a Zoom video chat with New York Ranger’s fans. Immediately many of the people in the hockey community tweeted their dismay over this vile incident and their support for the twenty-year-old defenseman.

Current New York Rangers among the first to offer support and encouragement

Ranger’s defenseman Jacob Trouba was among the first to tweet his support: “What happened today was inexcusable and cowardly. Racism has no place in the hockey community or the world. K’Andre Miller, we are excited to have you as a part of the Rangers and I look forward to having you as a teammate.” Sentiments that were also echoed by Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo. Strome tweeted out that “This team and this organization sticks together. You are one of us and we have your back!”

Many outsides of the Ranger’s organization was also quick to respond. Miller’s former head coach at Wisconsin, Tony Granato tweeted this: “K’Andre Miller has the support of myself and the entire Wisconsin hockey family. He has a bright future in the game of hockey. No one should be subjected to the inexcusable, racist behavior experienced today by K’Andre.” USA Hockey, which Miller has been a part of through his performance representing the United States in two Junior World Tournaments, stated that: “We support K’Andre Miller, an incredible leader, teammate, friend & person. Racial & derogatory slurs have absolutely no place in the game or society.”  Miller even received support from the Los Angeles Kings twitter feed when the posted that: We support K’Andre Miller and are proud to have you as part of the NHL family. There is no place for the racist remarks you had to endure today, and we look forward to hosting you and the Rangers in the future.”

A couple of years ago, William Douglas posted an article on thecolorofhockey.com that detailed Miller’s journey through hockey. Let’s hope that this incident goes a long way in making sure that incidents like these can be purged from this sport and our society.

The New York Rangers and the NHL Respond to the K’Andre Miller Incident

New York Rangers

On Friday, the New York Rangers hosted a zoom chat for the first 500 people who could get on Zoom with newly signed defenseman K’Andre Miller. The chat turned ugly when a person decided to use a racial slur repeatedly toward Miller. The twenty-year-old was selected with the 22nd pick of the 2018 NHL Draft and many expect him to make it to the Rangers shortly. An excellent skater, Miller has featured for the United States at the past two World Junior Championships and just finished his junior season at the University of Wisconsin.

The New York Rangers were slow to react to the racial slurs

A Zoom user used the chat function to repeatedly direct a racial slur targeted at Miller. It is not clear whether it was one of the 500 people who participated or was someone who hacked their way into the chat. Zoom has had issues with security over the past few weeks as video chatting has become more popular during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hackers gain access to a Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat and upset participants by shouting profanity or racial slurs or putting offensive images in the video feed. Zoom hacking issues like this are happening all over the world, from over-the-Internet Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to sensitive, high-level government gatherings.

Regardless of the Zoom issue, the New York Rangers created the event. Their reaction to this situation was a bit timid and slow. It took them more than three hours after the incident to post this statement:

“We held an online video chat with fans, and New York Rangers prospect, K’Andre Miller, during which a vile individual hijacked the chat to post racial slurs, which we disabled as soon as possible. We were incredibly appalled by the behavior, which has no place online, on the ice, or anywhere, and we are investigating the matter.”

Shortly after, the NHL posted this statement:

“The National Hockey League is appalled that a video call arranged today by the New York Rangers to introduce their fans to one of the League’s rising stars, K’Andre Miller, was hacked with racist, cowardly taunts. The person who committed this despicable act is in no way an NHL fan and is not welcome in the hockey community.  No one needs to be subjected to such ugly treatment and it will not be tolerated in our league. We join the New York Rangers in condemning this disgusting behavior.”

You can see a video of the incident on our Fireside Rangers twitter feed.

This just one of the incidents where the league needs to take a firmer stance to protect its players from this type of situation, even if the fault remains with the Zoom website. Racism has no place in hockey or anywhere, and this incident should expect a diligent response from the New York Rangers, the NHL, and any law enforcement division that this applies to.

The New York Rangers Signed Two NCAA Prospects

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have stayed active during the recent pause in the NHL season by signing two NCAA players. The Rangers recently announced that the team has agreed to terms with free-agent forward Austin Rueschhoff on an entry-level contract. His contract begins at the start of the 2020-21 season. Earlier in the week, the Rangers revealed that they agreed to terms with defenseman K’Andre Miller on an entry-level contract. Miller was the Ranger’s first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Rueschoff brings some size to the New York Rangers

The forward stands at 6-7 and 230 pounds. Imagine some scrums in front of the net with such NHL stalwarts as the Boston Bruin’s Zdeno Charo. But Rueschoff is not just a big body.

Over the three seasons he played at Western Michigan, Rueschhoff was one of 10 collegiate players who registered at least 35 goals, 35 assists, and 100 penalty minutes. He established collegiate career-highs in plus/minus rating and shots on goal, and he tied collegiate career-highs in games played and assists in 2019-20.

His Western Michigan coach had a great deal of praise for the 22-year-old. “Austin’s improvement here at Western Michigan was impressive,” said WMU head coach Andy Murray. “A quality young man, his compete level got higher each year and an increased focus on the details have led him to this NHL opportunity with the Rangers. We are excited for him and know he has a huge upside.

Miller leaves Wisconsin to join the New York Rangers

The 20-year-old defenseman scored 40 points in 62 NCAA appearances, including 18 points in 36 games this season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Internationally, Miller has represented the United States in several tournaments.

Miller played in the IIHF World Junior Championship in each of the last two years, helping the United States earn a silver medal in the tournament in 2019 and served as one of the team’s alternate captains in 2020. He also helped the United States earn a silver medal at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship. The Rangers are very high on the left-handed defenseman’s potential, which was one of the reasons they were comfortable dealing Brady Skjei to Carolina at last month’s trade deadline.

New York Rangers Keeping Tabs on Five Prospects During World Juniors

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers brass will have a little extra duty during the holiday season as they monitor the process of five Rangers prospects as they participate in the current U20 World Championships. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, is taking place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2020. Here is a look at the five prospects that are on rosters:

Nils Lundkvist

The Swedish defenseman was selected in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers. Lundkvist has had a nice season with his Swedish Junior team. As he left his club team for the World Juniors camp, he was third in scoring among defensemen in the SHL. In 24 games, he has totaled 17 points.  Many feel that he could be playing over here as soon as next season.

K’Andre Miller

Here is a little quick fact about Miller: He was a child model appearing in Target ads and was even cast in a Honda commercial that featured former Rangers Mike Richter and Pat LaFontaine. This, of course, was before the Rangers took Miller with their second of three first-round picks in the 2018 NHL draft, at No. 22 overall. He had only been playing defense full time for the previous two seasons when he was drafted. Being converted from forward, he has the size, athleticism and tremendous skating ability to be a top defenseman. He was recently named as an alternate captain for the United States team.

Karl Henriksson

The Swedish center plays for Frölunda HC J20 in the J20 SuperElit league and will suit up for the Swedes in the World Juniors. The New York Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2019 Draft.  Hockeyprospect.com has stated that his hands are soft and he can stickhandle well in tight situations and move the puck an inch to make a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Henriksson tallied a goal in Sweden’s pre-tournament game Monday against the United States.

Zachary Jones

The UMass/Amherst defenseman was born in the small town of Glenn Allen, Virginia to a minor pro hockey equipment manager who had his son in skates at an early age.  The USHL 2018-19 Rookie of the Year was drafted by the Rangers in the third round, 68th overall. The scouting report on Jones says that he has excellent vision and hockey IQ that makes him such a versatile player that can be used in all situations. It does not appear that Jones will be paired much with fellow future Blueshirt K’Andre Miller, but Rangers fans would love to see what this pairing could do together.

Nico Gross

The New York Rangers fourth-round pick in 2018 is entering into his third U20 WJC for Switzerland and has served as captain at other international tournaments.  The defenseman currently plays for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. One of his highlights this year was scoring a hat trick on Oct 4 against New Brunswick.  Gross is generally described as a mobile, physical and intelligent player.

Ranger fans who do not wait until Friday to see some hockey can watch the United States playing Canada on Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. ET, which is the first day of the tournament.  The NHL Network will carry that game as well as all of the US preliminary games.