Last season: 44-33-5, 93 points. 8th East, lost in first round to Washington (4-1).
Additions: D Tim Erixon, C Brad Richards, LW Mike Rupp
Losses: LW Derek Boogaard, C Chris Drury, D Matt Gilroy, LW Alex Frolov, D Bryan McCabe, F Vinny Prospal
Offense: The Rangers’ offense got a huge punch when they signed Brad Richards. Richards should be a good playmaker for Marian Gaborik, provided both guys stay healthy. Their linemate could be Wojtek Wolski, who was traded midseason for the second year in a row. The second line consists of team points leader Brandon Dubinsky (54), new team captain Ryan Callahan and young Russian Artem Anisimov. The trio combined for 65 goals and 146 points. Derek Stepan started off hot in his rookie year, scoring 14 goals by the All-Star break, but tailed off after. In rookie scoring, he finished fifth in both goals (24) and points (45). Brian Boyle was an unlikely contributor, scoring 21 goals, shattering his full season career high of 4. Ruslan Fedotenko is a reliable veteran who can fill any hole in the lineup. Tough guy Brandon Prust had 13 goals to go along with his 18 fights. Sean Avery might have played himself off of the team.
Defense: Marc Staal anchors a young defense as one of the good up and coming defensemen in the league. Named alternate captain before last season, he played his first all-star game and hit a career high in points (29). However is suffering from post concussion syndrome and his status is unknown at this point. His partner, Dan Girardi, gives the Rangers a very good top shutdown pairing. Girardi also hit a career high in points (31) last season. The highly touted Ryan McDonagh is coming off his first professional season, split between Connecticut and New York. Michael Sauer earned a full time role last season and lead the team with a +20. The “elder” statesman of the defense, Steve Eminger has bounced around the league, playing for six teams in the past four seasons, but seems to have found a home on Broadway. The sixth spot will be a battle between Michael Del Zotto (11 points in 47 games) and Tim Erixon, Calgary’s first round pick in 2009.
Goaltending: Henrik Lundqvist continues to be one of the best goalies in the league. Lundqvist posted a league leading 11 shutouts last year while having a 2.28 GAA and .923 save percentage. His backup, Marty Biron, is no slouch though. Despite only playing in 17 games, he posted the best numbers of his career (2.13, .923). Both Lundqvist and Biron give the Rangers a very good 1-2 punch in the nets to ensure opponents have a tough time scoring on New York.
Standout Player: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist has been the Rangers’ MVP since joining the club in 2005. There’s no reason this year should be any different, but the team won’t necessarily need to be on his shoulders with the reinforcements the team added. The better Lundqvist plays, the better the Rangers will finish.
Prediction: 3rd Atlantic, 8th East
The team obviously improved in the offseason with the addition of Richards. They have some questions marks though, as in the extremely youthful defense and forward depth after the top six. They’ll be on the bubble, and if some guys play up to potential, they should make the playoffs.