After seven straight playoff berths The New York Rangers saw their postseason streak come to an end in 2017-2018. They finished last in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points after three straight 100 points years. Our 2018 New York Rangers Season Preview looks at whether last season was a fluke, or the club is trending down and due to finish near the bottom of the standings again.
The New York Ranger’s offense does not project to be high-powered in the 2018-2019 season. For a team that finished with the tenth worst scoring rating last season, they have done very little to improve their game. Their leading scorer from last year was Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello had an alright season putting up 53 points on the year. However, of the leading scorers for each team, he ranked last in the NHL.
The Rangers’ leading goal scorers from last season were Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes who scored 27 and 25 respectively. Zibanejad, the team’s top center, led the team in powerplay goals (14), enroute to 47 total points in 72 games played. If he stays healthy he has the potential to lead the team in points again this season. Hayes’ 25 goal-season was the first of his career where he broke the 20-goal plateau. He looks to have a good chance to score at least 25 again this season.
Additional Good News
Also our 2018 New York Rangers season preview expects Ryan Spooner to be a bright spot in the Ranger’s lineup. Spooner was the largest piece of the trade which sent Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins at the deadline. He was a solid third line player for Boston, but really flourished when acquired by New York. In his 20 games after the trade Spooner had 16 points to finish the season with a total of 41 in 59 games played.
The biggest area for excitement on the Rangers may be Lias Andersson. He’s entering his rookie season. Andersson was the Blueshirts’ first round pick in the 2017 entry draft. He projects to be a leader for the team down the road. He suited up for the NHL club in seven games, compiling a goal and an assists. Aside from that, he split the rest of the season between the AHL and Folunda of the Swedish Elite League. He put up 14 points in each league over 15 and 22 games respectively.
According to our 2018 New York Rangers season preview, New York’s biggest bright spot on the backend has been Brady Skjei. In his second full NHL season last year, Skjei took on a large role, averaging 21:02 minutes of ice time per game. Skjei finished with a team worst -27 plus-minus rating. However, he has shown development towards becoming a legitimate top pair defenseman. Look for him to take the next step towards becoming an elite defender in the 2018-2019 season.
Kevin Shattenkirk will look to pick up where he left off last season. Before missing the final 36 games of season due to knee surgery, he was New York’s top defenseman as he was projected be when he was signed as a free agent last summer. In his 46 games played the New Rochelle native had five goals and 18 assists, while playing 20:16 minutes per game. His return is essential if the Rangers plan on getting out of the NHL’s basement this year.
Neal Pionk looks to project into full-time NHL role this season. Pionk played in 28 games over the latter part of the season after being called up from the AHL. In this timeframe he led the team in average time on ice (22:23) and showed some offensive prowess from the backend scoring one goal and assisting on 13 others. At lower levels, he has proved he can have impressive point totals for a defenseman, and will try to continue the trend at the NHL level.
At the age of 36, Henrik Lundqvist saw no decrease in workload last season. The Ranger’s all-time leader in wins finished the year with a 2.98 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 63 games played, where he also had a 26-26-7 record. While King Henrik doesn’t look like the elite goaltender he has been in the past, he is still capable of playing at a high level. The Rangers let up the second most shots in the NHL at 35.3 per game. Even if Lundqvist plays lights out, it is very unlikely that the team’s goal against decreases significantly.
Lundqvist’s backup is likely to be Alexandar Georgiev. That’s assuming New York chooses not to pick up any more goaltenders from the free agent market. The 22-year-old Russian netminder saw time in ten games for the Rangers last season. He had a 3.15 GAA and a .918 save percentage in those contests. His limited NHL experience makes it difficult to predict how he will play with more time, but his numbers in 37 AHL games last season were not stellar. With the Hartford Wolfpack Georgiev had a 2.98 GAA and a .909 save percentage.
2018 New York Rangers Season Preview: Outlook
Our 2018 New York Rangers season preview notes that the Rangers did little to address their goal scoring issues. Their defense looks similar to the one that averaged over 35 shots against per game last season. While Henrik Lundqvist is still a solid netminder, he is not getting any younger. The Rangers look to be trending towards a rebuild soon, with an aging core of players, and lack both the offense and defense of a playoff team. Expect another down year from the Blueshirts.
2018 New York Rangers Season Preview: Prediction
Record: 32-39-11=75 Points
Finish: 7th in the Metropolitan Division