New York Rangers’ Projected Starting Forward Lines For Opening Night 2013-14
New York Rangers' Projected Starting Forward Lines For Opening Night 2013-14
The New York Rangers had a very disappointing shortened season. They dropped from the No. 1 seed to the No. 6 seed in one season, and instead of going back to the Eastern Conference Finals like they did in the 2011-12 season, the Rangers were eliminated in five games in the 2nd round.
Disappointing is an understatement, but the Rangers have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season as they have undergone major changes to their coaching staff by firing ex-head coach John Tortorella for new head coach Alain Vigneault. Ironically Tortorella got Vigneault’s old job in Vancouver, so both the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks should have just worked out a deal to trade each other’s head coaches and save some time.
During this offseason, besides the coaching change, the Rangers did not make any huge moves in acquiring players through free agency. Rangers GM Glen Sather made some small pickups -- by small I mean money wise -- and acquired some much needed depth for the Blueshirts. More importantly Sather has put his major focus on signing his restricted free agents, and the Rangers had more than a handful of them in Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, and currently still in limbo Derek Stepan.
Not only will some new players be in the Rangers lineup on opening night, but some youngsters have a chance to crack the lineup and show the organization and the fans what they've got because of captain Ryan Callahan and forward Carl Hagelin recovering from shoulder surgeries. They could both miss the first month of the season
With all that being said, here is a list projecting the Rangers' starting forward lines on opening night of the 2013-14 season.
Mats Zuccarello - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Not the most impressive first line, but with injuries to both Callahan and Hagelin, the Rangers are going to have to make due with what they have.
Zuccarello proved to be an effective player last year, when he joined the Rangers during the latter half of the season, by recording three goals and five assists in 15 games. Playing on a line with both Stepan and Rick Nash I believe can only increase his productivity and should be a good fit on that line for the month of October.
There's not much to say about Stepan and Nash, because both of them deserve to be on the first line since Stepan is the Rangers' best center and Nash is the team's best winger.
Chris Kreider - Brad Richards - J.T. Miller
The biggest key to this second line all depends on Brad Richards.
Richards, as many already know, had a dreadful year last season with 11 goals and 23 assists in 46 regular season games and was even worse in the postseason with one goal and zero assists in 10 games. He was so bad that he was a healthy scratch in the Rangers' last two playoff games.
Since Richards is the center, arguably the most important forward position, he will have to have a much better year in order for any line he is on to succeed, as his play greatly effects his linemates' production.
As for Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller, I expect Kreider to take a bigger step forward than Miller since Kreider has been in the league longer. After his stellar postseason play back in 2011-12, the fans and the organization want to see that early success of his show its face throughout 2013-14.
Benoit Pouilot - Derick Brassard - Brian Boyle
Derick Brassard had a breakout half season with the Rangers after the team acquired him in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Marian Gaborik. With Brassard being only 25 years of age, I am sure the Blueshirts expect him to keep getting better and better as a playmaker.
Benoit Pouliot was an unrestricted free agent signing by the Rangers this summer and can put up really solid numbers, if he stays healthy. Pouliot, in his seven-year career, has never played a full season but certainly has the capability of becoming a 20 goal scorer if he ever plays a full 82. And for a third line winger that is not bad if I say so myself.
Brian Boyle is a big question mark going into this season, but I believe the Rangers will decide to keep him, even though Sather has to trade someone in order to make room to sign Stepan before the season starts.
Danny Kristo - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett
The Rangers' final forward line will consist of newly returning center Dominic Moore, who began his career with the Rangers before moving around the league. He was acquired by the Blueshirts this summer through free agency to come back where he started.
At the wings will be enforcer Derek Dorsett, who was acquired from the Blue Jackets in the same trade Brassard was in, and I believe rookie Danny Kristo will make the team to start the season because of the injuries to Callahan and Hagelin.
What will Kristo do, who is supposed to be a goal scorer? I don't know, but let's just hope for the best out of this young man and see if he can impress in October.
Dorsett, on the other hand, everyone knows what to expect out of him. His job is to start up trouble and provide a lot of hitting and grit on a 4th line that could possibly put some pucks in the net, which is what both the Rangers organization and fans would absolutely love.
Not Making The Team
Some of the players that I think will not make the team this season are forwards Taylor Pyatt, Aaron Asham, and Darroll Powe.
Since both Asham and Powe were put on waivers this offseason, I do not think that bodes well for their chances on wearing the red, white, and blue in 2013-14.
Pyatt, on the other hand, is the player I believe Sather will eventually trade in the upcoming weeks in order to free up some space to sign Stepan, as well as getting Asham and Powe's contracts off the books.
Pyatt had a very good start to last season but became rather invisible during most of the season and did not show up again until the very end. His lackluster season of six goals and five assists last year is just not enough to give him a spot on the Rangers this October.
But since I am not the Rangers GM, this is all just my opinion. So what is yours'?