Following a disappointing end to a season with promise, the New York Rangers have an excellent chance to make drastic improvements in the coming year.
2010-11 ended with back-up goaltender Marty Biron falling to injury causing Henrik Lundqvist to be overplayed going into the playoffs against one of the league’s top offensive teams, the Washington Capitols.
Even through his extensive play, Lundqvist showed why he is ranked at the top of the league’s premiere goaltenders playing close to flawless against Ovechkin and the Capitols. As usual the Rangers were unable to support Henrik’s play with offensive production and defensive help.
During the off-season the Rangers made a strong move acquiring Brad Richards to accompany Marian Gaborik as an offensive star. Coming off a 77 point season with only 72 games played, Richards offers the same level of production that Ranger fans expect of a healthy Gaborik. Unfortunately, the other aspect of Gaborik that Richards shares is his inability to stay healthy.
Richards has been known to miss a number of games each season due to injury, maybe not to the extent of Gaborik but enough to make it a concern for a team in desperate need of a steady, offensive producing forward.
In other good news, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky have inked deals holding them in New York for a few more years. These rising young stars have the ability to become an exceptional supporting cast for the Gaborik and Richards show. Each with the talent to produce 25 to 30 goals along with 25-35 assists, Callahan and Dubinsky are young and eager to win.
Additionally Brandon Prust, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle are coming off good seasons and looking to add some grit to this team in need of overcoming the Flyers and Penguins.
Coming up quickly as a hopeful shining star in this organization is 19 year old Christian Thomas, who Adam Graves is quoted saying “has one of those ‘wow’ shots where the puck just rockets off his stick.”
All good news in Ranger camp this off-season and hopefully the constant tactic of building offense first will finally pay off.