As expected, Marian Gaborik led the New York Rangers in scoring after signing a lucrative deal promising 7.5 million over five seasons. At 28-years-old he continues to provide an elite source of scoring as he has throughout his career. The question throughout his career appears to be injuries– when he plays he scores, but obviously can’t score without playing.
In his inaugural season in the Big Apple he helped Vaclav Prospal return to relevance and Brandon Dubinsky achieve career highs in goals and points. The Slovakian native also helped Eric Christensen re-establish himself as NHL talent after toiling in Anaheim and Atlanta.
After the top line, there are only a few notable names. Ryan Callahan will score 20 goals but there are definitely better options. Sean Avery and Chris Drury regressed over the past few seasons while rookie Artem Anisimov looks to be a few years away from being a consistent fantasy option.
Even though coach John Tortorella plays an offensive system, the players on the roster barely possess enough talent to consistently put points on the board making most players outside of the top line expendable.
Michael Del Zotto led all Ranger defensemen in scoring during his rookie campaign. He will look to improve those totals next season as he continues to man the powerplay and increase his confidence levels. At only 19-years-old he picked up the slack of underachieving and overpaid offensive defensemen Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival.
In fact, the young trio of Del Zotto, Daniel Girardi and Marc Staal eclipsed those two on the depth charts by midseason.
Staal surprisingly found the offensive side of his game this past season, finishing with 27 points– good for second on the team among defensemen. Girardi struggles to find the talent which gave him 10 goals two seasons ago and may have hit his ceiling then. When on his game he plays a solid game on both ends of the ice, but can see his confidence shattered when the boo birds come out.
Del Zotto definitely should be on a sleeper list as he could have a better season than other rookie standouts Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Karlsson. Staal may have similar value to Ryan Suter during his prime.
Henrik Lundqvist will man the pipes for the foreseeable future. Why not? The city loves him and he fits right in. He perhaps does not fit right in with the run and gun style of coach Tortorella as he faces more shots than he did under defensive-minded coach Tom Renney.
This past season his stats slipped slightly as the Rangers failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. Reports revealed Lundqvist as injured down the stretch so he remains a top 10 goaltender, although he once made an argument for top five.
On the Bench:
Tortorella really seemed to get this team motivated down the stretch although they struggled at lengthy clips to score goals. With him manning the bench, this team could be defined by one word: streaky. At times the system worked yielding 10 plus goals, other times they got shutout by a mediocre goalie such as Mike Brodeur.
The fiery coach has yet to find similar success during the lockout as he did before it. Prior to the non-season he helped guide Vincent Lecavalier and company to stardom and a cup in Tampa Bay but quickly lost his job after failing to deliver similar results. Perhaps his system only worked in the grab and hold era, but the Rangers seem intent on giving him at least one more season.
The Bottom Line:
The Rangers need to improve on the skill side of the puck. Outside of Gaborik and Del Zotto they lack the natural talent needed to correctly implement their system. With the guidance of new assistant GM Doug Risebrough, the team may go in a more conservative direction– meaning you can probably expect more of the same.