We are nine days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the New York Rangers.
|Mika Zibanejad – C – (from OTT)||Eric Staal – C – (to MIN)|
|Michael Grabner – RW – (from TOR)||Keith Yandle – D – (to FLA)|
|Nathan Gerbe – LW – (from CAR)||Derick Brassard – C (to OTT)|
|Josh Jooris – C – (from CGY)||Viktor Stalberg – LW – (to CAR)|
|Nick Holden – D – (from COL)|
In 2015-16, the Rangers qualified for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, but their first round defeat was disappointing after making it to the Eastern Conference Final in 2015 and the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. It was a busy summer in the “Big Apple” and the Rangers once again come into the season as favourites in the Eastern Conference.
Up front is where most of the Rangers’ changes happened. They were involved in one of the biggest trades of the summer, that saw Derick Brassard get shipped to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad and a second-round pick. Zibanejad is coming off of a career-high 51 points (21G / 30A) last season and figures to slot in behind Derek Stepan on the Rangers’ second line. The Rangers also landed the highly sought after, 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey. The 23-year-old winger had 46 points (24G / 22A) with Harvard University last season and could crack the top-6 as training camp progresses. Zibanejad and Vesey joing a core that has been together for awhile now. Last season the aforementioned Stepan and Chris Kreider played together a bunch and when they were on the ice together, they scored 60.7 percent of the goals (per puckalytics.com). They will likely be joined by either Mats Zuccarello or Rick Nash. One of them is coming off of a great year and the other is not. Zuccarello had a career-high 61 points (26G / 35A) in 81 games while Nash saw his goal total drop from 42 (in 2014-15) to 15. Nash has been an inconsistent goal scorer throughout his career, but that was drastic. Expect him to easily surpass 20 goals this season with obvious 30-goal potential. Their bottom-6 consists of a lot of young, quality talent. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast are coming off of the best years of their young careers and Kevin Hayes is looking for a bounce-back after being pegged as a breakout last year and failing to meet those lofty expectations.
On the back-end, the Rangers lost both Keith Yandle (traded to Florida) and Dan Boyle (retirement), but Dylan McIlrath is ready to play a full season and they added Nick Holden, who appeared in 82 games with the Avalanche last season. This unit is led by Ryan McDonagh and his D-partner Dan Girardi, who takes a lot of heat and his underlying numbers speak to him being more of a depth defenseman than a top-pair player. The big benefactor of Yandle and Boyle’s departure will be Kevin Klein. The 31-year-old has quietly scored 18 goals over the last two years and their is 4:46 of power-play time now unspoken for. McDonagh will obviously eat up a lot of that time on the top-unit, but Klein is the next in-line to see a bump in power-play usage.
In goal, nothing has changed. Henrik Lundqvist is back as their No.1 with Antti Raanta coming in as his backup. Since breaking into the NHL in 2005-06, Lundqvist has won at least 30 games in every full 82-game season while posting a 2.28 GAA and .921 SV%. He has consistently played as a top-10 fantasy netminder and has come in among the top-5 more often than not. His 2.48 GAA last year was not Lundqvist-like, but his .920 SV% shows it was more his team’s fault than his. Raanta should be targeted as one of the top backup options in leagues where goalies are thin.
Overall, the Rangers changes should be for the better and they still have the look of a top team in the Eastern Conference. The blueline is a bit of a concern, but Lundqvist will make their issues less glaring. They have a lot of young players that could take step forwards which could make this an elite team in 2016-17.
Rangers in the DFO Top 275:
- 26. Henrik Lundqvist – G
- 106. Derek Stepan – C
- 109. Mika Zibanejad – C
- 129. Mats Zuccarello – RW
- 133. Ryan McDonagh – D
- 157. Rick Nash – LW
- 170. J.T. Miller – LW
- 180. Jimmy Vesey – LW
- 210. Chris Kreider – LW
- 239. Kevin Klein – D
- 242. Kevin Hayes – RW
2016-17 Season Projection:
Being in the Metropolitan Division isn’t fun. You have last year’s President’s Trophy winner and last year Stanley Cup Champions. Also among that group is John Tavares and the Islanders and the physical Philadelphia Flyers. Life won’t be easy for the Rangers, but they should finish among the top-3 in the division.