With training camp around the corner, players will begin to take the ice and start getting prepared for the brand new season. Newly acquired head coach Alain Vigneault has a plan for a deep Rangers team. Signing players like Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot definitely helps this team in the bottom six and we could maybe see some scoring again from Brian Boyle. Players who already have the gifted ability to score up in the 25-30+ goal range will be on a lot of radars to see if they can improve their previous career highs. Let’s discuss some players who may benefit the most out of this new offense-first system.
Rick Nash: What can you say about the former 1st overall pick and Olympic gold medalist? He has incredible vision and skating ability for a big player. He had 21 goals and 21 helpers in a shortened half-season due to the lockout. With Vigneault on the bench, can Nash return to a 2008 season campaign of a 40 goal-40 assist pace? It’s possible as he had 21 goals-21 assists in a defensive system in only 48 games.
Ryan Callahan: Ryan Callahan possess the mold of a hockey player that every team wishes they had. Fast. Tough. Grit. Sacrifice. Scorer. Those are just a few words that describe what he is. Callahan had a 29 goal campaign two seasons ago in 2011-12 and 22 goals in 2010 in just 60 games under former head coach John Tortorella. With the offensive minded coach, we could possible witness Callahan’s numbers improve a lot and may enter the 30-35+ goal scoring plateau. It probably won’t happen this year as the gritty forward will miss a little playing time with the surgery and rehab on his shoulder, but he could very well be on the verge of having an even better season from two seasons prior.
Derek Stepan: I know this is getting old, but Derek Stepan is still unsigned, but who didn’t see this happening? The kid had a breakout year in a contract year (Which happens a lot, ironically). So he wants a few extra dollars. That’s perfectly fine being that he could be the Rangers second best scorer on the team. Fans should feel safe about him improving his numbers under the new system as he’ll be more focused on offense now and not defense as much. He had 18 goals in half a season and the team should expect plenty more next season, especially if they pony up those few extra dollars he wants. Expect Stepan to flirt with 35 goals next season. He’s too good to regress.
Who do you think will benefit the most out of Alain Vigneault’s system long term?