New York Rangers: When will they contend again?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: (l-r) Rob O'Gara
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: (l-r) Rob O'Gara /
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Nearing the end of the season, it’s time to take a look at the future of the New York Rangers. When can this team truly consider themselves contenders again?

It seems like yesterday the New York Rangers had picked up Kevin Shattenkirk and were considered to be in contention for the Stanley Cup this season.

The season is dwindling down and coaches, players, and fans alike can speculate about and discuss where it all went wrong. Was it the injuries? Was there simply not enough talent? Motivation? Are we really going to pin all the blame on Alain Vigneault?

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However, as much as the team does need to reflect on a few things to learn from their mistakes, they also need to do something much more important. They need to concentrate on the future.

After all, that’s what they stated they were doing when they sent out that letter to the fans. That’s what they did when they traded away the familiar faces of forward J.T. Miller and defenseman and captain Ryan McDonagh.

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Now the question becomes- when exactly can the Rangers call themselves Stanley Cup contenders again? The answer to that question may be more exciting than some anticipated.

With the new-found center depth in Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov, the Rangers turned one of their greatest weaknesses into a strength. In fact, their main problem now is figuring out who deserves a spot in their lineup.

On the back end, players such as Brady Skjei, Neal Pionk, and Ryan Lindgren will all have a chance to prove their worth and work their way up to top pairings.

Young players such a Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil give this team reason to be excited about the near future too. In their first NHL game, Andersson notched a goal and Chytil recorded an assist. Andersson also tallied an assist in Washington on Wednesday night.

On top of this, the team’s trade deadline moves allowed them bring in a ton of future assets. Assuming this draft goes well, they will have even more players to be excited about.

Even their goaltending situation is something worth noting. Alexandar Georgiev is one of many that they have marinating in the AHL. He’s proven to be calm and reliable in the few games he’s played so far this season.

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The Answer:

As soon as next season, it is possible that the Rangers can go back to the playoffs and potentially contend. They might look like a team such as the Toronto Maple Leafs with all the young talent that will be spread throughout the lineup. It’s not a team that will be expected to go far in the playoffs, but their young talent could propel them to a respectable top three or four position in their division.