New York Rangers the Big Winner of the Offseason
It has been a tough couple of seasons for the New York Rangers, as the team has squandered away a bunch of the career of a great goaltender while failing to improve the rest of the team around him. But this offseason has been a huge success for the Rangers, as they have made a number of additions that should make them one of the most improved teams in the NHL this coming season. In the process, they have made a statement about the way that rebuilding in the league should be done as a whole.
Their rapid rebuild started by bringing in Kaapo Kakko in the NHL Draft. Kakko is a young forward who is expected to be one of the most prolific scorers in the league in the future, and one who is thought to be able to provide an immediate impact for the Rangers as he continues to develop. And Kakko will be aided by a high-level defenseman thanks to the Rangers bringing in Jacob Trouba in a trade. But that wasn't the end of their attempts to improve their team.
Perhaps the most important move that the Rangers made was signing Artemi Panarin. In each of the last four seasons between his time with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Panarin contributed at least 70 points for his team. That kind of production can quickly help a team to get better. And with the young Kakko in the fold for the Rangers, someone who can help distribute the puck the way that Panarin can will be valuable to their growth on multiple levels.
The question now is how much the Rangers will improve thanks to these moves. While NHL picks could see more faith put into the Rangers, the team may undergo some growing pains while integrating all of their new talent. In the long run, the Rangers will likely be much better than they were last year. But how long that will take remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the improvement of the Rangers speaks to how well the NHL allows teams to rebuild themselves. Unlike the NBA, where there isn't a hard salary cap, teams have the ability to catch up with other squads. This is because teams in the NHL can't go above the cap to continue to improve their team, providing a limit as to how much a team can improve itself. That gives the Rangers a more attainable target to catch up to.
Compare that system to the NBA, where teams are allowed to go over the salary cap if they are willing to pay a luxury tax. That creates an environment where teams can sign several players to maximum contracts, and follow up those signings by bringing in veterans willing to take a discount to have a chance at a championship. The NHL has a system that is far more conducive to rebuilding, something that the Rangers have done a great job of taking advantage of to make themselves a competitive team in the Eastern Conference.