Chris Drury has started to assemble the New York Rangers for next season by agreeing to terms with defenseman Ryan Lindgren on a three-year contract. The contract is reported to be at the $3 million AAV.
The 23-year-old Lindgren skated in 51 games with the Rangers this season. He registered one goal and 15 assists for 16 points, along with a plus-20 rating and 35 penalty minutes.
He was one of only three Rangers who recorded 90 or more hits and 50 or more blocked shots this season. At the time he suffered an upper-body injury on Apr. 29, Lindgren was one of only four Rangers (and the only defenseman) who played in each of the team’s first 51 games of the 2020-21 season. He ranked second on the Rangers in average shorthanded ice time this season (2:30), and he currently ranks fifth in the NHL (min. 115:00 of shorthanded ice time) in power-play goals against per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time in 2020-21 (4.22). Lindgren was not on the ice for a power-play goal against in 20 consecutive games from Jan. 24 at Pittsburgh to Mar. 9 at Pittsburgh (51:30 of shorthanded ice time over the span).
Lindgren also receives a team award from the New York Rangers
The New York Rangers also announced their team award winners for the 2020-21 season today. Adam Fox was named the Rangers’ Most Valuable Player, Lindgren was named the recipient of the Players’ Player Award, and Brendan Smith was named the winner of the John Halligan Good Guy Award.
The Players’ Player Award in 2020-21, which is given annually to the Ranger who, as selected by his teammates, “best exemplifies what it means to be a team player.” Lindgren established career-highs in several categories in 2020-21, including assists, points, plus/minus rating, and hits (98), and he led the team in plus/minus rating this season.
The Most Valuable Player Award was voted on by members of the New York Rangers media and has been given annually since the conclusion of the 1941-42 season. Fox has won the award for the first time in his career. He is the first Ranger who has won the award in one of his first two seasons in the NHL since Henrik Lundqvist in 2006-07, and the first Rangers skater who has done so since Brian Leetch in 1988-89. Fox, who also won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in 2020-21, became the seventh Ranger to be named the Team’s MVP (as chosen by the media) and to receive the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (as chosen by the fans) since 1987-88, which was the first year the Steven McDonald Extra Award was presented.
The John Halligan Good Guy Award recognizes a player for their cooperation with the media throughout the season. The award has been presented annually since the 1974-75 season and was renamed in 2009-10 to honor the team’s late public relations director. The award recipient is chosen by members of the media who cover the Rangers throughout the season.
Smith skated in 48 games with the Rangers this season, registering five goals and five assists for 10 points, along with a plus-three rating and 73 penalty minutes. He established a career-high in penalties drawn (25) and tied his career-high in goals this season, and he leads NHL defensemen in penalties drawn in 2020-21. The Rangers posted a 25-19-4 record in the 48 games that Smith played this season.
Artemi Panarin scored two goals and added an assist to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Blueshirts started the game hot as they scored three of their goals in the first period.
Igor Shesterkin shut out the Devils for the second game in a row, stopping all 16 shots. This was the first time that a Ranger goaltender has shut out a team in two consecutive games since it was last done in 1955.
Ranger nation was a little worried when the team announced that Panarin missed the morning skate due to maintenance. However, head coach David Quinn confirmed that he would be playing on Thursday night.
Quinn seemed very prophetic about Panarin’s performance as he discussed his star player in his pre-game Zoom conference. “Artemi is a special player. There are not a lot of players in this league that can do what he does.”
Panarin scored the third and fourth goals for the Rangers. Jacob Trouba started the scoring for the Rangers and Ryan Lindgren tallied his first goal of the season for the first two Ranger tallies. Panarin has posted seven different three-point games at MSG this season. He is the first Ranger to post at least seven three-point games at home in the same season since Jaromir Jagr in 2006-07.
Colin Blackwell continues to do well with his promotion to Panarin’s line, adding three assists for the Rangers. Blackwell has established single-game career-highs with three assists and three points. Blackwell and Panarin were on the ice for each of the Ranger’s four goals.
The New York Rangers defensive unit has been excellent in all aspects.
In addition to Shesterkin’s fine play, the Rangers defense played well in front of him. The Blueshirts only allowed the Devils three shots in the first period and four shots in the third. The Rangers were also credited for blocking 20 shots in the game.
The unit has not only been solid in their defensive end, but they have also contributed on the offensive end as well. Five different defensemen have tallied a goal over the last four games (K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, Brendan Smith, Trouba, and Lindgren), and each of the six NYR defensemen (Adam Fox, Miller, Hajek, Smith, Trouba, and Lindgren) have recorded a goal over the last six games.
The New York Rangers got some welcome news on Wednesday. Artemi Panarin stepped on the ice for the first time in a couple of weeks after taking time off for personal reasons. Like many around the country, Panarin’s presence should provide a big lift for a team on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.
Panarin left the team on February 22 due to a claim made by a former coach in Russia that he had physically assaulted an 18-year-old woman 10 years ago. The Rangers, in a statement that day, “vehemently and unequivocally” denied the allegations, called the story “fabricated” and an “intimidation tactic” for Panarin’s social media outspokenness in opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, head coach David Quinn had said that Panarin will not play on Thursday.
“He’s here today, practiced today, will skate again tomorrow. So as far as I’m concerned he’s here and just getting ready to play.” Quinn said Wednesday after practice. “To me, he’s all-in and ready to go to. He’s been off the ice for a while, so we’ve got to get him game-ready.”
Panarin was not made available for comment after practice. He has not publicly addressed the situation since it broke in February.
Quinn also told the media that Panarin has the full support of his teammates.
“These guys are fully in his corner.” Quinn said “They understand the situation. So, the fact that he’s got such a great relationship with all these guys has made all of this a lot easier.”
Even Panarin’s presence should boost the morale of the New York Rangers
No matter when Panarin returns, his presence should give a boost to a team that has struggled in two straight losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Things don’t get any easier with two games against the Bruins coming up.
“It’s great having Bread back,” Ryan Lindgren said after Wednesday’s practice. “You know, he’s such a positive, energetic guy. It was just great seeing him and having him back in the locker room. There are so many different elements he brings off the ice.”
The Rangers need this kind of boost and quickly.
After Tuesday’s loss, the Rangers were seven points out of a playoff spot. The team that currently holds the final playoff spot is the same Boston Bruins that the Blueshirts face in back-to-back games. After that the Flyers come to town for two games, followed by a two-game trip to Washington to face the Capitals. All of these teams are ahead of the Rangers in the standings.
This delivery by the “Breadman”, on and off the ice, could be the boost needed to keep the Rangers in the East Division playoff hunt.
There is little doubt that having fans in the stands had a huge impact on Friday night. Players and coaches commented how much of a factor this was in the New York Rangers 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.
During his post-game Zoom conference, head coach David Quinn talked about the impact of the fans: “You knew there were going to be fans in the building – but I don’t think any of us expected the impact that they would make. They were incredibly loud and passionate – they had an impact tonight. We can’t thank our fans enough.”
Adam Fox echoed those sentiments in his post-game conference. “Going out there for warmups and seeing them, and then during the anthem, it sounded like 20,000, not 2,000,” Fox said. “It was awesome to have them there. They gave us a spark and some energy and it was good to get the win with them here.”
With the two teams slated to play again at noon, the question remains as to if the Rangers can keep the momentum going.
Can the New York Rangers keep the momentum going from Friday night’s big win?
In addition to having the spark from the fans, the Rangers are facing a Bruins team that has lost four of its last five games. Their only win during that stretch was the outdoor game last Sunday in Lake Tahoe.
Things have been tough during the Bruin’s last two games. Over an 80 minute span going back to the second period of Thursday’s loss at the Islanders, the Bruins have scored one goal, while relinquishing a whopping 11 goals against.
One of the more noticeable traits that the Rangers displayed Friday night was an uptick in physical play.
“No one was backing down tonight,” said Ryan Lindgren in his post-game Zoom conference. “They’re a physical team. They like to jaw after the whistle and do things like that. We weren’t backing down. We were giving it right back. You know, we were smart with our physicality, too. We weren’t taking dumb penalties. It was a great team effort. We came to play tonight.”
Hopefully, they will also bring that same energy to Sunday afternoon’s game, something that Quinn also hoped for. “It was a good night,” Quinn said. “That being said, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We know what we’re in store for on Sunday afternoon. We’re going to enjoy this for tonight, but we’ve got to get back at it and be ready to go on Sunday.”
Sunday’s puck-drop is scheduled for noon and will be broadcasted nationally on NBC Sports.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pens still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so you have to put them in the top four.
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.
New York Rangers– The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Goals: Panarin Points: Ziba MVP: Panarin Defenseman: DeAngelo Rookie of the Year: Lafreniere
Playoffs: The team makes the playoffs, eliminated in the second round.
With many questions dominating the return of the NHL one thing is very clear, the New York Rangers would be one of the scariest teams to play against come playoff time.
The Rangers have come a long way since their opening night win against the Winnipeg Jets in October. This team started the year with a bunch of rookies, strong veteran leadership, and a second-year head coach in David Quinn who seemed more comfortable behind the bench.
With a powerful offense led by potential MVP candidates in Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, the Blueshirts quickly provided a scoring punch they had been missing since the days of Jaromir Jagr. They both made the rest of the club better in all areas of the ice. What was even more surprising was the emergence of the team’s top duo on the blueline.
Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren became the top defensive pair for the team. The two rookies proved they belonged in the NHL early on and thanks to a switch in the pairings midway through November, they two have become a dominant force playing against the opposition’s top players.
The goaltending tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev kept the Rangers above water early on until the team’s decision to recall their top. goalie prospect in the AHL Igor Shesterkin.
Shesterkin played his first game the day after his recall defeating the Colorado Avalanche and winning 10 out of his first 12 games in the NHL before the NHL paused. its schedule.
The team went on a tear beginning the start of the new year in January winning 18 of their final 29 games played to bring the team within two points of a wildcard spot.
Their hard nose never gives up style of play makes them a dangerous opponent against any team. They should be an exciting club to watch when the league resumes play this summer.
Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox have worked their way up through the season and were becoming one of the more trusted blueline pairings for the New York Rangers. Many did not even give Lindgren much of a thought when the season started, but his hard work and chemistry with Fox have turned them into trusted and reliable Blueshirts.
Lindgren started the season in Hartford
After a brief call up in the 2018-19 season, Lindgren started the season in Hartford where he posted one goal and one assist in nine games with the Wolf Pack. His hard work in the offseason had paid off, as when he returned to the Rangers, he looked much more comfortable getting back to defend and more confident pinching in the offensive zone. Lindgren also looked much more decisive with and without the puck. He excelled on the penalty kill and quickly formed chemistry with his defense partner and former developmental teammate Adam Fox. The two were nearly inseparable after Lindgren got called up from Hartford on Oct. 28. Coach David Quinn put them together, and they remained together for 58 of the 60 games Lindgren played.
Lindgren’s role with the team became even bigger when Brady Skjei was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick at the trade deadline. Following the trade, Lindgren became the top and most trusted left-handed defenseman. In addition to being essential on the penalty kill, he also became a steady presence in big situations and late in games. Lindgren has one goal, 13 assists and is plus-16 in 60 games with the Blueshirts this season. He has also helped Fox thrive, as he has eight goals, 34 assists in 70 games.
The Fox-Lindgren pairing has thrived
The two 22-year-olds have a close friendship that goes back to the days when they played together as teenagers in the U.S. national team development program. That friendship has shown during their improved play this year and was mentioned in a recent Zoom conference call that was sponsored by the NHL. Fox jokingly said when asked about the physical pounding Lindgren, has taken this season: “He had a streak of getting pucks to the face, high sticks — and it wasn’t even the way he plays, it was just unfortunate bounces, so his face probably needed this quarantine a little bit to heal up.’’ He was a bit more serious when he was asked about Lindgren’s style. “He thinks the game really well, and he compliments me so much. And he’s willing to stay back and make smart outlet passes. And he’s a tough guy. And I think the way I play, he just suits me really well as a ‘D’ partner.’’ As well it should as Fox has been mentioned as a candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
New York Ranger fans are happily realizing that Lindgren and Fox are both just 22-years-old and they have the potential to be the Rangers’ top defense pair for years to come.