The 2021 season is finally here. We have a shorter season, sweet new retro jerseys (read up on them here!), and a whole new division alignments this upcoming season that will lead to easier and harder roads to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- Jack Johnson (Free Agent)
- Alexis Lafreniere (Draft)
2019-2020 Look Back
- 37-25-5 79 Points (Lost In Play-In Round 3-0 to Carolina)
- 3.33 G/GM (5th), 3.14 GA/GM (T-23rd) 22.9% PP (9th) 77.4% PK (23rd)
- Goals: Mika Zibanejad (41)
- Assists: Artemi Panarin (63)
- Points: Artemi Panarin (95)
- Wins: Alexandar Georgiev (17)
- Save %: Igor Shesterkin (.932)
- Shutouts: Alexandar Georgiev (2)
Projected 2021 Season
60 Points (roughly about 25-30 wins)
- LW Chris Kreider / C Mika Zibanejad / RW Pavel Buchnevich
- LW Artemi Panarin / C Ryan Strome / RW Kaapo Kakko
- LW Alexis Lafreniere / C Filip Chytil / RW Julien Gauthier
- LW Brendan Lemieux / C Kevin Rooney / RW Phillip Di Giuseppe
- LD K’Andre Miller / RD Jacob Trouba
- LD Ryan Lindgren / RD Adam Fox
- LF Jack Johnson / RD Anthony DeAngelo
The Blueshirts are back this year with a whole new look and identity. They are by far one of the youngest teams in the league, and a late surge to the bubble has led to some high expectations heading into the 2021 season. Let’s dive in shall we?
While some Ranger fans were upset from getting knocked out so early from the bubble, we quickly forgot about it when one ping pong ball bounced Broadways way allowing one of eight teams that made the bubble to get the 1st overall pick in the 2020 Draft. The rest was history as the Rangers wouldn’t say it but the whole universe knew it was going to be Canadan winder Alexis Lafreniere. After hitting the lottery last year with the number two pick (Kaapo Kakko), they have built a youth foundation that will pay dividends for years to come at Madison Square Garden. Beside the youth they have on the top nine ,“The Breadman” Artemi Panarin looks to capture the Hart Trophy after becoming a finalist last season. Beside a little bit of a shake up to the bottom line, the Blueshirts look to have the same foundation as last year that averaged 3.3 goals a game, 5th best in the league.
What used to be a strong point for the Rangers where they protected former netminder Henrik Lundqvist, they have gotten a lot younger and faster on the blue line. While writing this, the Rangers announced that K’Andre Miller will make the team at the young age of 20 years old. It is significant as only a handful of defencemen have made their debuts before turning 21 (Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Stall). He is the second rookie to make the team before turning 21 (Terry Carkner, 1984). He will have big shoes to fill as he will be paired on the top line with Jacob Trouba. That means Tony DeAngelo will slide to the third pairing and be on his more natural right side. The move allows the Rangers to keep everyone on their dominant side, letting the youth play and gain experience, and most of all add some depth on all three lines.
The changing of the guard between the pipes happened midway through last season, and finally came to full fruition in the off season. The Rangers made a very hard choice at the same time in regards to buying out long time fan favorite Henrik Lundqvist (read more on Hanks time on Broadway here!) Insert rookie Igor Shesterkin (starter) and Alexandar Georgiev (backup), and the Rangers have a great two headed monster to rotate in and out while games will be jammed together with a shorter season. Shesterkin is projected to win the Calder Trophy (along with fellow teammate Alexis Lafreniere) as they are both high on everyone’s list, along with the top two betting favorites.
Moves That Need To Happen During The Year:
1) Shore up the PK – Sign Brian Boyle
Sure this isn’t the same team he played on a few years back but he is familiar with New York and how the team operates. He can be on the bottom six and help out on killing penalties. Something they struggled with last year.
2) Depth down the middle – Trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois
Having depth at center is every team’s dream, and the Rangers need it. But trading for Dubois does more than just give them depth, it provides them another scorer. The only issue with this is they CAN NOT trade a lot of young talent, something that might be easier said than done. If they can swing some sort of deal involving Julien Gauthier, Ryan Lindgren, Matthew Robertson or Mils Lundkvist then I’ll be all for it. But DeAngelo, Kravtsov and Miller should not be moved for Dubois.
With the new division alignments, it’s going to be tough not only for the Rangers to make the playoffs but for everyone in the East as only the top four teams make it, compared to the previous format of the top three and two wild cards. The Capitals, Bruins and Flyers are likely to make it leaving the Rangers, Penguins and Islanders battling for the last spot. The first two games to open up the season against the Islanders will be huge considering it’s the first two matchups of eight to start the year, and they can gain separation early.
They have what it takes to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs but it will be very hard to do. If they do, they can win a series or two. If they miss out, it won’t be by much.