1. New York Rangers
Would you look at that, it’s the New York Rangers atop the Metro division defensive rankings. It has been a long and tumultuous journey, but finally, the Rangers have revamped their aging defensive corps. Heading into the 2017-18 season, the outlook is bright for this group.
Of course, the headlining move of this defensive overhaul was the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk. He figures to immediately slot alongside captain Ryan McDonagh. The second pairing will return homegrown star Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith. That top-four ranks among not just the best in the Metro, but the best in the NHL.
Much like the rest of the Metro, the Rangers’ final pairing will have question marks for most of the season. Unless one or both of Marc Staal or Nick Holden get moved, worthy prospects will be forced to wait in the wings.
Alexei Bereglazov figures to be a front-runner to serve as the team’s seventh defenseman. A clause in his contract would allow him to return to the KHL otherwise. However, recently acquired Anthony DeAngelo has first-round upside, and Ryan Graves has done just about all you can do in the AHL.
One thing is certain, this is not the New York Rangers defense of the past. We will be experiencing something much more special in the 2017-18 season