New York Rangers must ask themselves if not now, when?
The New York Rangers post season came to a close after an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their exit from the playoffs is roughly two weeks sooner than many had hoped for and a month later than most expected. The Rangers cinderella run answered many questions about the team, yet this off-season will be full of new questions.
The New York Rangers grew from rebuild to contention this past season. In doing so, they have now entered into the tinkering stage. Finding a way to fit all of the puzzle pieces together into a championship mix. However, as General Manager, Chris Drury must also be cognizant of the future and ask himself the most important question.
If not now, when?
If not now, when? Is a loaded question for sure. Many variables exist that could change the dynamic of the question’s subject matter. It could represent when the team will finish first in the division, advance to the Stanley Cup Final or win the Cup. Who might be traded or which free agents will get their payday or be let to test the waters of unrestricted free agency. For this New York Rangers team the summer of 2022 the question is about youth.
The New York Rangers have an abundance of young talented players. Yet, like every other NHL team, they have a limited number of roster spots in which to deploy them. Add in the concerns of a hard salary cap that is rising only incrementally and being an organization filled with both established veterans and young, promising talent brings with it its own dilemma.
Where do the New York Rangers fit them all?
During the 2021-22 season it was seen how impactful the teams youth was on the blue line. Three of the Blueshirts top four defenseman, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller have just three years or less experience in the NHL. Jacob Trouba, being only true veteran among them with nine seasons, had more games played than the other three combined. Rookie Braden Schneider was added later in the year to the bottom pair, solidifying five of the six defensive spots. Add to this that Coach Gerard Gallant wanted a veteran to play with the rookie and all six spots were taken. This left no room for Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson to play on Broadway. Perhaps one spot will be available as Schneider will have a season under his belt. But that remains to be seen. If not now, when will these three prospects be given a fair shot to play with the Rangers?