New York Rangers: When a rebuild becomes a black hole

EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 14: Oscar Klefbom #77 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during the game against the San Jose Sharks on March 14, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Oscar Klefbom
EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 14: Oscar Klefbom #77 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during the game against the San Jose Sharks on March 14, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Oscar Klefbom /

The New York Rangers are rebuilding. A rebuild can easily turn from a couple years long, to a decade long. Here are some examples of rebuilds that became black holes.

The New York Rangers enter the 2017-18 season in the midst of a rebuild. A rebuild is a way for a team to start anew and bring in a new generation of talent that can lead a team into the future. But a rebuild can also quickly turn into a never-ending black hole.

As the Rangers embark on this rebuild, they should take a look at other teams that have fallen into the trap of a “black hole” rebuild. A couple of bad seasons are understandable, but years, or even a decade, at the bottom of the league would be insufferable.

The Edmonton Oilers

Arguably the most notable team that is stuck in a black hole rebuild is the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers went on a decade-long playoff drought that lasted from the 2006-07 season until the 2016-17 season. They then missed the playoffs again last season.

During the span of their playoff drought, the Oilers had the number one overall pick four times.

In 2010, they drafted Taylor Hall. In 2011, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In 2012, Nail Yakupov and in 2015, Connor McDavid.=

Two of those number one overall picks are now with different teams. But let’s focus on the Taylor Hall trade.

The Oilers traded Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson. Larsson played in 69 games this season and earned 13 points. Hall led the Devils to the playoffs in 2018 with a 93 point season and won the Hart Trophy.

It is true that the Oilers have offensive depth and could use some help on defense. So in theory, the trade made sense. But a one-for-one trade with Taylor Hall and Adam Larsson just does not add up.

Another trade the Oilers made that left people scratching their heads is the Jordan Eberle trade. The Oilers traded Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome. This was also a one-for-one trade.

These baffling trades are part of the enigma that is the Edmonton Oilers.

The glaring issue, as it is for a lot of other teams, is on defense and in goal. The Oilers have rising stars in Oscar Kelfbom and Darnell Nurse, but they cannot be the leaders of the defense at just 20 and 22 years old.

Before Klefbom and Nurse, the Oilers defense during this “rebuild” never had a big name or someone that was a true number one. Unless you want to count Andrew Ference, who captained the Oilers in the last three years of his career and won a King Clancy trophy.

The Oilers have also had a revolving door of goaltenders. They tested Devan Dubnyk and Ben Scrivens as starting goaltenders, and then traded with the Rangers to acquire Cam Talbot. While Talbot has been good, he has not been consistent enough.

There is also the revolving door of head coaches in Edmonton. The Oilers have had seven head coaches during their decade-long playoff drought. They also have had four general managers during that time period.

Edmonton is essentially an unstable organization that cannot seem to find a way to dig itself out of the black hole that is this rebuild. Two out of their four first overall picks did not work out, and another former first round selection was traded away.

Inconsistencies in the front office and inconsistencies on the ice have plagued them for years. Not to mention unwise decisions made by general managers regarding trades. Each time the Oilers take one step forward, they take two steps back. This is the kind of situation the Rangers should avoid at all costs.

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The Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes currently have the longest playoff drought in the NHL. They have missed the playoffs every year since the 2008-09 season. That is nine seasons total.

This is the same Carolina Hurricanes club that was a postseason staple in the early 2000s and won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Cam Ward signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks this summer, meaning the only remaining member of the Stanley Cup team left is Justin Williams. Oh, and new head coach Rod Brind’amour.

The Hurricanes earned the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft and selected Jeff Skinner. He went on to win the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 2011 and played in the All-Star Game that Carolina hosted that season.

The Hurricanes narrowly missed the playoffs that year, which was a promising sign for the future. However, things went downhill very quickly after that.

Carolina spent the following seasons at the bottom of the league standings. From 2013-2015, the Hurricanes picked fifth, seventh, and fifth overall. The two fifth overall picks were Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Both were traded to Calgary in June for Dougie Hamilton.

Besides not having much to show for their last few first round picks, the Hurricanes have fallen into the same trap as Edmonton with constant coaching and administrative changes.

Rod Brind’amour will be the Hurricanes fifth head coach throughout this playoff drought. Don Waddell is the third general manager of the Hurricanes since 2008-09.

Former General Manager Ron Francis never made a player-for-player trade. Trades always involved more pieces like multiple draft picks. This is one of the major criticisms of his stint as GM.

Now, the Hurricanes have a new owner. Tom Dundon, a businessman from Texas, became majority owner in January and wants to make major changes. This includes hitting the reset button yet again on a team that was arguably only missing a couple pieces to make a playoff run.

These changes include the Lindholm/Hanifin trade, and trading the aforementioned Skinner to Buffalo for draft picks and prospect Cliff Pu. The trade, however, did not include a first round pick. This seems like a small return for someone considered a face of the franchise.

Also like Edmonton, the Hurricanes have had a revolving door of goaltenders. They tested multiple backups for Cam Ward including Justin Peters, Anton Khudobin, and Eddie Lack, until deciding to trade for Scott Darling. Now Ward is gone and all of their eggs are in the Darling basket.

This is just another story of inconsistencies. Draft picks failing to succeed or being traded away, inconsistent goaltending, a lack of offense, and constant changes in the front office all contribute to a never ending rebuild cycle.

The worrying thing about these teams is that it does not take long for a rebuild to spiral out of control. A couple of small mistakes here and there can send a team into the abyss for what seems like forever.

What the Rangers have going for them is certainty. They are sticking to their rebuild plan, and will not deviate. They know what they want and need for the future, and are going to get it one way or another.

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A rebuild can sound scary. There is potential to fail and be a bad team for years. But if the Rangers learn from these other teams’ mistakes and stick to their plans, they should avoid the black hole.