The New York Rangers needed to freshen things up after last season and the way things ended with John Tortorella. They brought in Alain Vigneault who runs a system that should see the Rangers become much more aggressive on offense which might be exactly what players like Rick Nash and Brad Richards need.
Richards was demoted last season to the fourth line center after Tortorella made it known he was unhappy with how Richards was playing. While Richards was having the worst season of his career his coach seemed to be very willing to make Richards the scapegoat for the team’s overall performance. It was a far cry from when the two helped lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup win in 2004. This off-season, the Rangers made their choice. Tortorella is gone and the Rangers declined to buy out Richards so the Rangers were pretty clear in who they wanted to move forward with.
Even though Richards is coming off of the worst season of his career that saw him post 11 goals and 23 assists for a paltry 34 points he can still be a very productive player. He has come back from down years in the past although none of the down years were as bad as last season. With the right system in place it shouldn’t be hard for a player with Richards’ pedigree and talent to rebound and become a pivotal player once again.
Rick Nash is another player that should greatly benefit from Vigneault’s style. Nash had a very up and down year but still produced 21 goals and 21 assists. Nash only scored four goals in the first month and a half of the season but began to turn it on as the season progressed. That wasn’t surprising considering he was coming into a shortened season and trying to learn a new system. This year both Nash and Richards should be given plenty of chances to gel in camp. Having a full camp should make a huge difference in the productivity of the Rangers offense, especially from Richards and Nash.
At one point, the Vancouver Canucks had one of the best offenses in the NHL under Vigneault. There is no reason to think with the talent that is one the roster with Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider among others, that the Rangers can’t become one of the best offensive teams in hockey. There is still a lot of work to be done but it is possible the Rangers might have found the cure for their ills.