Heading into last season one thing New York Rangers fans were looking forward to was a little redemption. After losing to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals Rangers fans had Stanley Cup on their mind and so did the Rangers’ brass. Rick Nash was brought in to team with Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and company. However, under John Tortorella the players never achieved their offensive potential. Now, with a new system in place under coach Alain Vigneault Rangers fans are left wondering what could have been.
During his time with the Vancouver Canucks, Vigneault led one of the NHL’s best offenses led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. Vigneault is not afraid to utilize his young players and under Vigneault’s system the Sedin twins and Kesler flourished. Rangers fans have to hope that Stepan and Kreider among others will be able to do the same. Still, it would have been very interesting to see what a combination like Richards, Nash and Gaborik would have been capable of.
At 31-years-old, Gaborik is still in the prime of his career and prior to last year he was coming off of a 41-goal campaign. His career seems to go in cycles with a 40-goal campaign coming every other year which means, if the cycle holds, he would have been poised to have a big year this year. Of course, that is pure speculation.
Last season’s struggles on offense aren’t Gaborik’s fault. Almost every Rangers player saw a drop in offensive production. The Rangers dealing Gaborik wasn’t an attempt to find a scapegoat and they did get three nice players in return. However, his offensive drop could be attributed to the short season. It could be he wasn’t comfortable in Tortorella’s system. It could be a combination of those things. However, one thing is certain, it would have been a lot of fun to watch Gaborik, Nash, Richards, Kreider and Stepan and company in Vigneault’s system.
Vigneault should revive Richards’ career and should finally get Kreider, Carl Hagelin and Stepan to play to the utmost potential. It would have been a lot of fun to see what Gaborik could have done in this system with this cast.