Atlantic Division Update After First Week of UFA: New York Rangers
If the New York Rangers weren’t in New York, there would be a different outlook on their current offseason. However, they are from the big apple, so expectations are always high. This offseason, the Rangers haven’t delivered to their fans.
Even my colleagues over at Rangers 101 have questioned the team’s moves this offseason.
The biggest question mark for the Rangers is still their scoring. They have yet to add another dynamic scorer to the roster, like Rick Nash, who’ve they’ve been rumored to acquire for probably three years now. The reason this issue is even more pressing this offseason is because their leading scorer, Marion Gaborik, is expected to be sidelined for about six months due to shoulder surgery.
With Gaborik seeming to be the only person that is able to consistently put the puck in the net, it’s a surprise the Rangers haven’t gone out of their way to help out Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. He’s a brick wall between the pipes, but has lost his fare share of games 1-0 or 2-1 because of the Rangers’ inability to put the puck in the net.
While the Rangers have failed to bring in another elite scorer, they’ve also managed to let a few key pieces of last year’s team go. They didn’t lose a star like the the New Jersey Devils did, but they lost experienced guys that helped the Rangers steal victories.
Although much is being made out of the loss of Brandon Prust, we believe Ruslan Fedotenko jumping ship to the Philadelphia Flyers will have a bigger impact.
He is a proven winner, having held the Stanley Cup twice in his career, and was a great third line forward for New York. He may have struggled during the regular season, but showed up in the playoffs, helping grind out victories.
The fact he moved onto the Flyers should be an even tougher pill to swallow for Ranger fans. What ultimately killed Philadelphia in the playoffs this past year was a lack of defense and toughness displayed against New Jersey. Fedotenko’s presence in the locker room will change that.
The Rangers have added some pieces: Aaron Asham, Michael Haley, Taylor Pyatt, Brandon Segal and Jeff Halpern to fill the void left by the free agents that walked, but the Rangers offseason will continue to be judged by what they haven’t done. The Blue Shirts showed that not grinding out victories will ware a team down by the playoffs, and not finding another viable scorer will hurt the team.
Expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to overtake them in the Atlantic Division this year with Sidney Crosby finally healthy, and the team’s stellar offseason. If they add Alexander Semin, which they are rumored to be close to doing, they should be a lock.
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