|Dan Boyle – D||Brad Richards – C|
|Lee Stempniak – RW||Anton Stralman – D|
|Chris Mueller – C||Benoit Pouliot – LW|
|Tanner Glass – LW||Brian Boyle – C|
|Mike Kostka – D||Daniel Carcillo – LW|
|Matthew Lombardi – C||Stu Bickel – D|
|Matt Hunwick – D|
|Cedrick Desjardins – G|
In their first season under new head coach Alain Vigneault, the New York Rangers went 45-31-6 (96 points) and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
It was the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since they won the Cup in 1993-94. After a 20 year wait, the Rangers were unsuccessful in their attempt to win the fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Despite a strong year, the Rangers are going to look vastly different in 2014-15. They lost Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle to name a few, but added some veterans to fill the void. They lost a defensive defenseman in Stralman and replaced him with a 38-year-old offensive defenseman, Dan Boyle. He will likely slot in on the second pair with Marc Staal and line-up along side Ryan McDonagh on the top power-play unit. Last year Boyle had 12 goals and 24 assists (36 points) in 75 games, so he may have lost a step but he is still going to pile up points. McDonagh on the other hand is great offensively and defensively. His 14 goals was tied for sixth among defensemen and he should right around that total again in 2014-15. His D-partner, Dan Girardi is also strong defensively but his typical low goal total keep him as a fringe fantasy asset.
Those defensemen have the luxury of playing in front of one of the NHL’s best goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik finished 2013-14 with a 33-24-5 record, 2.36 GAA and .920 SV%, both of which ranked 15th in the NHL. He is as steady as they come. In nine NHL seasons has won 53.8 percent of his starts while posting a 2.26 GAA and .920 SV%. When it comes to drafting an elite fantasy goalie, it comes down to personal preference how you rank the top 3. Lundqvist is up there with Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Quick, but you have to rank them slightly ahead of him because of the quality of their squads. He will have Cam Talbot as his backup for the second straight season. Talbot was 12-6-1 with a 1.64 GAA, .941 SV% and three shutouts in his rookie season. He will be one of fantasy’s best spot start options again this season.
Up front, their top line will be the same as last season with Derek Stepan centring Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. Stepan hasn’t missed a game in his four NHL seasons and 2013-14 was his best year to date. He recorded 17 goals and 40 assists (57 points). With talented linemates, he will get to 40 assists and could be in store for a 20-40 season. Nash was not a huge factor in the playoffs, but during the regular season he has 30-plus goal potential. John Tortorella leaves town and Kreider has a great year, coincidence? Definitely. Kreider played nearly 16 minutes a night and he took advantage of them. He had 17 goals and 37 points in 66 games, so a healthy 2014-15 could produce a 25-25 season.
The offence doesn’t stop there. Martin St. Louis will have a full season in the Big Apple and he is a safe bet to lead the team in points. Without Steven Stamkos he likely won’t be a point-per-game player, but he will be close. With Richards walking in free agency, Derick Brassard will move from the third to second line. He’ll be 27 by the time the season starts, but the extra year won’t suddenly turn him into a 60-point player. He’ll wind up in the mid-40’s with a shot at 50. The Rangers are hoping 21-year-old J.T Miller will finally be able to make the leap to the NHL for a full season. He has played 56 games over two seasons, but has only tallied 10 points (5G / 5A). For a two-way forward, his 43 points in 41 AHL games shows he has some offensive upside.
Last season New York was able to rely on three lines for production, but this season it will likely be more of a two-line attack. Mats Zuccarello led the team in points last season on a very productive third line, but if he lands in the bottom-6 again, expect some regression, but not much–he is more than a shootout specialist now.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Rangers’ Fantasy Players)
- Henrik Lundqvist – G
- Martin St. Louis – RW
- Rick Nash – LW
- Ryan McDonagh – D
- Derek Stepan – C
- Chris Kreider – LW
- Dan Boyle – D
- Mats Zuccarello – RW
- Derick Brassard – C
- Carl Hagelin – LW
Click HERE for the Rangers’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Rangers will finish second in the Metropolitan Division.
Other Season Previews: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames,Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars,Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders,