New York Rangers: Why Fans Should Be Hopeful for Next Year


The New York Rangers are a very different team than that of last year, but Vigneault is hoping to keep most of the roster status quo going into next season, and for good reason. 

After falling just short of winning the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row, you’d think the New York Rangers would be discouraged at this point. Yet head coach, Alain Vigneault, is already looking forward to next year.

In his breakup day press conference, Vigneault saw this year’s Rangers as “a different team with a lot of the pieces that are probably going to be coming back next year – a lot of those pieces are still very young, and improving, so it makes it very interesting right now if you’re a Rangers fan.”

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

Some of the players he’s probably talking about are Chris Kreider (24), Derek Stepan (24), Ryan McDonagh (25), but most definitely J.T. Miller (22), Jesper Fast (23) and Kevin Hayes (23).

Miller took a beating, from drawing multiple penalties to the incident with Dustin Byfuglien, and somehow bounced back every time. The resilient forward recorded 10 goals and 23 points over 58 regular season games: reason enough to give him minutes in the postseason.

In the Playoffs, Miller scored a goal and three assists in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final alone. He more than doubled his point score that night, bringing it up to eight points overall.

Having seen what he is capable of, having Miller on the roster, whether in the regular season or next postseason, will be a major plus.

As for the Swedish rookie, Fast has lived up to his own name, skating like a madman to create opportunities. Take his performance against in Round Two versus the Washington Capitals for instance. Fast was taken off of the fourth line and given more of an opportunity to provide offense next to Hayes and Carl Hagelin. As a result, Fast recorded one goal and three assists in the series.

Jan 20, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast (19) congratulates right wing Kevin Hayes (13) for scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Then against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Fast buried another two goals in Game Three.

He’s had plenty of good looks at the net throughout the postseason. So, like Miller, Fast should prove to be a big help to the Rangers for hopefully a long time.

Then there’s Hayes. Where do I even start? The rookie began the season off a little shaky, but boy did he grow to be a staple in the lineup. In the regular season, he recorded over a point-per-game with 17 goals and 28 assists. Then in his first taste of the Playoffs, Hayes managed an honorable two goals and five assists.

The fact that this is Hayes’ first year with the Rangers is almost unbelievable, seeing how well he has played and how confident he is now. The only criticism I had for him in the regular season was his face-off percentage, which was a horrible 33.9 at the time that I wrote about his worth to the Rangers. But guess what you guys. Hayes is already showing small improvements with a recorded 36.3 by the end of the regular season and an even better 38.8 in the Playoffs.

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So while the Rangers do have a couple of players nearing retirement from the NHL, a lot of the team is still very young and, like Vigneault said, still improving. To me as a Rangers fan, that is something to be excited about in spite of their recent playoffs history.

Whether they had been a first round exit, or had won the Cup, a team of this caliber (and Presidents’ Trophy winners no less) to still have room for improvement should scare the living daylights out of their contenders in the near future.

With time, the Rangers will heal and I’m sure they’ll be back better than ever. And even by next spring, who knows, maybe we’ll be saying the third time’s the charm.

Next: Zuccarello: An Accident that Hit Close to Home

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