2018-19 Record (32-36-14) 78 Pts
It has been one full season since the Rangers announced their plans for a rebuild, and it seems to be working out well for them so far. They were able to get the younger players solid NHL experience, without the usual constraints of attempting to squeeze into the playoffs and winging it. They were confident in their plan for the season. They didn’t have too many sustained losing streaks; only two five/six streaks resulting in two points each. However, they proved unable to string together any winning streaks. At season’s end, you can see why the Rangers were sitting so close to the bottom of the division.
- 17th ranked Power Play – 19.4%
- 27th ranked Penalty Kill – 78.2%
- 30th ranked Faceoff Win – 46.9%
- 3rd ranked Shots Against – 33.8 shots
- 27th ranked Shots per game – 29.2 shots
- 19th ranked Shooting % – 9.2%
- 19th ranked Save % – .904%
- 24th ranked Goals Scored – 221 goals
Ranks via NHL.com & Hockey Reference
Seeing the writing on the wall, GM Jeff Gorton made some tough, albeit understandable, decisions in order to keep the rebuild on track. He managed to pull off eight trades during the season, and two after, preparing for the future. The most notable trades were:
- New York traded Mats Zuccarello with 30% of the salary retained to Dallas for a 2019 second-round pick (Matthew Robertson) and a 2020 third-round pick.
- New York traded Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg for Brendan Lemieux and a 2019 first-round pick (WPG – Ville Heinola)
- New York traded a 2019 second-round pick (Mads Søgaard) and a conditional 2020 third-round pick to Carolina for Adam Fox. Conditions can be found at CapFriendly
- New York traded Neal Pionk and Winnipeg’s 2019 first (Ville Heinola) back to Winnipeg for Jacob Trouba.
These strategic moves set the Rangers up with eight picks in the 2019 Draft, including the second overall pick.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images
Mika Zibanejad took a huge step forward this past season. Putting up an impressive stat line of 30 goals / 44 assists / 74 points on 236 shots on goal, he has blossomed into the top-line center that they had hoped for when they acquired him in 2016.
Most Improved Player
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You can call it a cop-out, but Zibanejad was far and away the most improved player on the team this year. Setting career highs for goals, assists, points, total ice time, average time on ice, shots on goal, total shots attempted, faceoff wins, and takeaways, he amassed 27 points more than the 2017-18 season. He’ll likely be wearing the “A” on his sweater next season, but don’t be surprised if he’s chosen to wear the “C”.
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Setting career lows for goals, point per game pace, +/-, shooting percentage and average time on ice, this season was a bitter disappointment for Kevin Shattenkirk. It was essentially comparable to his previous seasons compromised by injury and lockout when he was limited to less than 46 games per season.
Highlight of the Year
Projected Depth Chart (July 20)
Chart via CapFriendly
Poised for a Breakout
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A former first-round pick, Filip Chytil could see an expanded role this season for the Rangers. Splitting time between the third and fourth lines, Chytil averaged 13:47 of ice time last season. He’s currently slated as the third line center, but with more trades being rumored, Chytil could find himself securely in a second-line center role. If that happens, a major jump in production should come with it.
The Rangers prospect pool is looking to be one of the best in the league. Along with these three guys keep a look out for K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Ty Ronning, Libor Hajek, and Matthew Robertson.
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The second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Kaapo Kakko checks all the boxes. Playing on TPS in Finland’s Liiga as a 17-year-old, Kakko put up 22 goals / 16 assists / 38 points in 45 games. He has top-end talent at all aspects of the game. His hockey IQ is extremely high, stick handling and skating are exceptional. Couple that with his toughness and determination, and you have an elite prospect that could be a force in the NHL for a long time.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
The 6’4″ Russian forward was drafted ninth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, but elected to finish out his contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL. Putting up 21 points in 50 games as an 18-year-old in the second-best men’s league in the world, Vitali Kravtsov was on a similar production pace as Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin during their time in the KHL. A safe bet for a top-nine spot this year.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Igor Shesterkin looks to be the real deal goalie prospect. Spending the last four years dominating the KHL, Shesterkin has signed his ELC and will join the Hartford Wolfpack this upcoming season. Playing 102 games with SKA St. Petersburg in the last four years, he had a 75-14-10 record with a 1.76 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He is looked at as the next franchise goalie. He may get a little taste of the NHL this season, but it’s much more likely he spends a full season in Hartford and makes the jump in 2020.
- Artemi Panarin, acquired via Free Agency, signed for 7 years, $81.5 million.
- Jacob Trouba, acquired via trade, signed for 7 years, $56 million.
- Adam Fox, acquired via trade, signed a $925,000 ELC.
- Kevin Shattenkirk 2 years, $6.65 million AAV with a M-NTC/NMC remaining.
- Brendan Smith 2 years, $4.35 million AAV with M-NTC remaining.
- Chris Kreider 1 year, $4.63 million with a M-NTC remains.
- Vladislav Namestnikov 1 year, $4 million remaining.
- Ryan Strome 1 year, $3.1 million remaining.
After landing the second overall pick, the top free agent of the year, and a solid defenseman, the New York Rangers have kicked this rebuild into high gear. Add some top young talent coming up through the ranks, and this team could be a force for years to come. Jeff Gorton and company have done a great job finding talent at the draft and making smart trades to put the team on the right track.
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