Should New York Rangers fans expect to drive into the playoffs in the 2020-21 season?
In our four part series, we have taken off the fan goggles and dove deep into the realistic expectations of the New York Rangers for the 2020-21 season. In our first part we reviewed the masked men in net and in the second part the boys who patrol the blueline. In our third part, we took a lengthy look at the teams offensive drivers. For the final part in our series, we put it all together and check in on the team as a whole.
The New York Rangers are a team that is on the rise. Entering just the third season of a rebuild, the team is ready to compete for a playoff spot. As he did with the Boston Bruins as their interim GM in the summer of 2006, Jeff Gorton is proving that a rebuild does not need to be lengthy. The turn around has been quick, helped by two straight draft lottery wins, the acquisition of young mostly NHL ready talent via trade and a key free agent signing.
But where does all of this leave the team in terms of realistic expectations for the upcoming season? As noted in part one, the passing of the torch to Igor Shesterkin provides an improvement at that position. In part two we discussed how the offense from the backend is expected to continue and how the hiring of Jacques Martin should improve the overall team defense, especially on the penalty kill.
In part three we reviewed that awards worthy seasons should not be expected, but that any top level regression should be offset with deeper depth production. The developmental growth of the younger players and the infusion of Alexis Lafrenière (and possibly Vitali Kravtsov) will help to better balance the team throughout all four lines, requiring less of a herculean effort by the teams top players.
But, to better understand where the team is going, we need to know where the team is coming from.