The New York Rangers got their man after all. Patrick Kane, arguably the greatest USA-born player in NHL history, is now playing on Broadway. And the cost? Not Brennan Othmann. Not Will Cuylle. Not Adam Sykora. Not even Matthew Robertson or Zac Jones.
Two draft picks. That’s it. And all we can hope is that the conditional second-round pick will turn into a first-round pick, meaning that the Rangers make it to the Conference Finals.
Will it be enough? Will the most talented group of forwards in team history overcome the defensive challenges we have seen them face too often this season? Will this collection of stars be enough to overcome the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Toronto Maple Leafs? While the Rangers loaded up, so did all of their rivals. It won’t be easy.
Drury strikes again
Kudos to Chris Drury. The Rangers’ President and General Manager have managed, for the second straight season, to strengthen the team at the deadline without trading a single one of the team’s top prospects. He waited out the Blackhawks, trading for Vladimir Tarasenko so early that it forced Chicago to practically give Kane to New York.
Look at what Tampa gave up to get Tanner Jeannot. Five draft picks including a first and second-round pick as well as their third, fourth, and fifth-round picks this year. Nine players and four draft picks changed teams in the Devils’ swap for Timo Meier. The Rangers gave up two draft picks for a player who is a three-time Cup winner and a generational game-changer.
Hey, last season, Kane had one of his best seasons with a career-high in assists (66). He became a man with something to prove after the Tarasenko trade. His response? Seven goals and three assists for 10 points in five games.
And he wants to play in New York.
A tough road ahead
Ranger fans are in for a great ride. A Rangers-Devils first-round match will be epic. The Blueshirts may have Carolina’s number, but anything can happen in the playoffs and they just added Jesse Puljujarvi.
If the Rangers can get past New Jersey and Carolina, the winner of a grudge fest between Toronto, Tampa, and Boston awaits. The miracle will be if the survivor of an Eastern Division bloodbath has anything left for the Stanley Cup Final.
There are no guarantees in hockey, especially in the playoffs. Injuries matter. Short series matter. Chemistry is needed. Last year, after two brutal seven-game series, the team ran out of gas after taking a 2-0 lead on Tampa. Don’t forget that the Lightning was coming off a sweep of Florida, lying in wait for the Blueshirts.
But the Rangers have something that no contending team in the Metropolitan Division has. That’s Igor Shesterkin and if he can regain his form, that could be the most important piece of the puzzle.
So, it’s all or nothing for the New York Rangers in their quest for a Stanley Cup. No matter what happens, it promises to be a great ride. If they don’t make it, the critics will be howling. Will there be frustration? Sure. But better that we go all in and try to win. No matter what, it’s a great time to be a fan of the New York Rangers. Enjoy it, folks.