The New York Rangers are in the second year of a rebuild that has become accelerated far faster than anyone anticipated. How far along are they in remolding the team?
When the New York Rangers announced that they were rebuilding in February 2018, the team was still in playoff contention. It was very possible that the team would make the post-season, but another early exit loomed. With several big contracts expiring, the idea of getting a return of youth and draft picks made perfect sense. The big difference was throwing Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller into the trade mix.
It’s now been two trade deadlines and off-seasons with another one looming. How well has the team done at remaking the team into one that will be a playoff contender? There are two questions to be asked. Are the “new” Rangers better now than the pre-rebuild and if not, will they be better and when.
There was one area that was completely unaffected by the rebuild announcement and that was in goal. Henrik Lundqvist has an ironclad contract and no desire to move. Igor Shesterkin was drafted in 2014. Alexandar Georgiev had been signed in 2017. While one could say that Georgiev replaced Ondrej Pavlec in net as part of a youth movement at the end of 2017-18, it was his play in Hartford and an injury to Pavlec that led to his promotion.
There’s no doubt that the new Rangers are better in goal than the pre-2018 deadline team and their future is bright. To give credit where credit is due, this wasn’t a product of the rebuild, it was excellent scouting and talent assessment that resulted in signing an undrafted Georgiev and plucking Shesterkin in the fourth round in 2014.