Is It Time for the Rangers to Rebuild?
By Patrick Hoffman
For the last decade or so, the New York Rangers have been considered Stanley Cup contenders.
It is easy to see why both the league and their fans thought so highly of this hockey team. With Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, a well-balanced offense and a solid defensive corps, the Blueshirts were a tough team to beat.
This was a club that was usually able to get into the playoffs and even do some damage while in them. The team went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012, 2014, and 2015 with an appearance in the Cup Final in 2014.
In the last two postseasons, however, the Rangers have been very underwhelming. The club got knocked out of the first round in five games by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and last season, the Ottawa Senators beat them in six games in the second round.
When it comes to playoffs this season, that is up in the air. As of this writing (January 30, 2018), the Blueshirts find themselves 1 point out of a wild card spot and two points out of second in the Metropolitan Division.
While the Rangers still have a good chance of getting into the playoffs this season, it may not end up being fruitful for them. The team's defense has been awful this season, which means that all the pressure will be on Lundqvist to lead them to their first Cup win since 1994.
As good as Lundqvist is and has been this season, I really cannot see that happening. In fact, in looking at this franchise right now, I think it is time to start rebuilding.
Sure, this team could make the playoffs this season, but will they really be a threat to win the Cup? I highly doubt it.
There are several reasons why the Rangers should consider rebuilding. For starters, this team needs more prospects in the cupboard.
While the team did draft well last summer, other years have been quite disappointing. The team's best players are in the lineup right now so if one of them goes down, they really do not have many options when it comes to having someone come up and get the job done on a consistent basis.
Speaking of prospects, this team really needs to give them a chance to shine if they do a rebuild. Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson both have a ton of talent and bring a lot to the table, something which this club will need in the near future.
It also might be time for the Rangers to consider moving some players in order to help this franchise succeed in the future. While I think Rick Nash has been one of the team's best players this season, it is clear that he is not going to help this team win a Cup anytime soon.
Other players that also might fit this category are the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Michael Grabner, and may be even Mats Zuccarello. Yes, Zuccarello is a fan favorite, but in order to move this franchise to move forward, some tough decisions are going to have to be made and some players are going to need to be moved.
Believe me, as someone who has followed the Blueshirts his whole life, this was a somewhat difficult piece to write. With that said, I have come to accept the fact that it might be time for this team to undergo some major changes.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.