New York Rangers
2021-22 Record: 52-24-6 (110 points)
Goal differential: 254-207 (+47)
Key Additions: C Vincent Trocheck, G Jaroslav Halak
Key Subtractions: C Ryan Strome, C Andrew Copp, F Frank Vatrano, D Nils Lundkvist, G Alexandar Georgiev
The Rangers made a Cinderella run to the conference finals last season, before finally bowing out to the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. While they definitely lost more talent than they added this summer (including both middle-six centers), they’re a team who is now leaning harder on a handful of talented, former high draft picks – most of whom gained invaluable experience in the playoffs last season.
Up front, the Rangers will hope that former Cane Vincent Trocheck will be able to replace Ryan Strome on the team’s second line. He brings a similar type of skillset, but also adds an extra touch of grit and two-way play to this group. The most painful loss for the Rangers up front might be that of Andrew Copp, who was terrific for the club after being acquired at the trade deadline. They need young Filip Chytil to grasp the third line center role and run with it, if they’re going to have success this season.
On defense, it’s hard not to like this group; they’re big, physical, and they skate well. They’re somewhat thin on experience (Jacob Trouba, 28, is their oldest player); but they have an elite player in Adam Fox, and like the forwards, these guys gained tons of experience in a long playoff run. I think they’ll be more than enough to keep this team in contention, as long as they can lean on their otherworldly goaltending again.
Speaking of goaltending; reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin returns and will look to provide the team with elite level goaltending on a nightly basis. Adding veteran Jaroslav Halak should help the team continue to be stingy in the goals against department, which allows their talented forwards to play up tempo hockey. The Rangers are almost certainly a playoff team again, though I don’t necessarily see them contending for a division title.