3. New York Rangers (2022-23, 47-23-11, 107 points, 3rd in Metro):
As a Rangers fan, I’m excited about the upcoming season. Our top-six forwards are looking solid, and the addition of Blake Wheeler is noteworthy. Our strength lies in our forward group, and there’s plenty to be optimistic about.
Artemi Panarin may not be at his peak, but he’s still an elite playmaker. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider add the finishing touches to our top line. Filip Chytil has been stepping up as a reliable second-line center, contributing 20-plus goals and 40-plus points. Kaapo Kakko also has the potential to make an impact in the top six, especially with Alexis Lafreniere facing some preseason challenges.
With this lineup and the addition of Peter Laviolette behind the power play, it should be one of the best in the NHL, especially with Wheeler’s playmaking skills added to the mix.
However, there are concerns about our depth. While Vincent Trocheck is a solid third-line center, can our scoring keep up with the likes of the Devils and Hurricanes, who have deeper forward groups? Will Cuylle making the opening-night roster could alleviate some of these concerns if he can contribute to the scoring in a top-nine role.
Our fourth line, consisting of Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick, and Barclay Goodrow, might not provide much at five-on-five, and we need to address that. And then there’s Lafreniere, who had a rough preseason. We still believe in the former first-overall pick, but he needs to consistently score in the top nine, which he hasn’t quite proven yet.
In the net, Igor Shesterkin is fantastic, but the presence of Jonathan Quick raises some questions. Quick had a tough preseason, and given his age, it’s unlikely he’ll suddenly turn things around. While Shesterkin can carry us to the playoffs, Quick playing two dozen games could be a stumbling block, potentially jeopardizing our chances against the Devils Hurricanes in the division. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to cheering on the Blueshirts this season!