After Tom Wilson rag-dolled Artemi Panarin at Madison Square Garden, New York Rangers management wanted to get tougher. They wanted to acquire players who played hard, hit hard, and could bring that toughness they thought the team was lacking. The Rangers brought in Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Reaves, and Sammy Blais to help with this problem.
Now, almost two seasons later, Reaves and Blais are gone and suddenly, the Rangers don’t seem as tough. However, the Rangers still have players who play hard and who play that gritty game there is no need to go out and trade for players who play that style.
Some fans feel that the team has gotten softer since they traded Reaves earlier this season due to him wanting more playing time. Last season, Reaves was a great player to have around and he brought that toughness and swagger that he was known for.
Even though he rarely fought, he still played his part and made sure his team was not afraid to get dirty because he had their back. Now that he is gone, fans feel that the team is lacking that toughness. However, this team still has each other’s backs and just because they all don’t drop the gloves or lay big hits, they still have grit.
The Rangers still have plenty of players who can play that style of hockey. Goodrow is still here and now this season, the captain Jacob Trouba has really stepped up his physical game and is not afraid to drop the gloves after laying a big hit.
Trouba has been a target of many fanbases due to them feeling that his hits are dirty. Trouba is one of the cleanest hitters in the league and he chooses his spots extremely well. The hit on Nazem Kadri is the perfect example of that. Guys like Trouba, Goodrow, Ryan Lindgren, and Chris Kreider all play that gritty style of hockey and they are all capable of bringing that every game.
Now, if the Rangers feel like they are lacking that style in their bottom six, they may look to trade for a player. One player they have been linked to is Nick Ritchie in Arizona. He plays that gritty style, he hits and he is not afraid to get in other players’ faces. He isn’t the best skater and isn’t the best defensively, but he can provide some offense and if he plays with the right combination of players, he could be a great fit. Do the Rangers need to trade for him or a player like that? No, they do not.
The Rangers wanted to become a tougher team to play against and they accomplished that. Just because some of those players are gone, it does not mean that they did not leave an impact on the rest of the team. The team’s toughness has grown thanks to players like Reaves and his impact was needed at the time. The Rangers still have players who are gritty and they are still a tough team to play against.