All of this has meant that the team is working a transition period and as much as they want to win now, it seems to be a little more acceptable that they are moving in the right direction, even if they're taking a loss.
The 2017 edition of the Rangers isn't short on talent, working from the back end outwards. A number one goalie, their captain patrolling a blueline that has a good veteran presence and youthful exuberance and then their forward ranks are still trying to find that consistency, which doesn't feel too far away.
If some of the reports are true, the Rangers may not be done tinkering, but they may also have to wait until the season starts, if they are looking for desirable or desperate trade partners. Still, there should be plenty to choose from from the Rangers, so be confident in them as a hockey pool kind of team.
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Getting his first full season of pro hockey after his college career should act as a good springboard for defenseman Brady Skjei, who was a 1st round pick, way back in 2012. The 22-year old had a steady college career, according to his numbers and his time in the AHL in 2016 could also be quantified the same way, as steady.
Skjei came up at the end of the regular season, managing seven games before the playoffs, registering upwards of 22 minutes a game, but failed to pick up any points. In the playoffs, he had a couple of assists in five games, before the Rangers dropped out to the Penguins, but he is certainly the type of guy that could get you a decent amount of points, as a late round pick.
First Round Picks
Henrik Lundqvist will be tasked with carrying this Rangers group once again, but I'm not sure how successful he will be in the grand scheme of things. Yes, he'll steal some games and for some of those games, he will be spectacular, earning shutouts here and there. It will be that spectacular play that will keep him in the 1st round conversation.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and the newcomer Mika Zibanejad are all more than worthy for the hockey pool draft, while Rick Nash will be, whether he stays with the Rangers or they are able to find a new home for his big cap hit. There should also be plenty of excitement for the likes of J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes, each thought to still be tapping more potential.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Ryan McDonagh will lead this group again, but he has yet to find those big offensive numbers for the Rangers. His responsible play in his own end surely makes up the difference for the franchise, but is somewhat of a let down for us poolies. Kevin Klein and another newcomer in Nick Holden should be able to support their captain offensively and make for good picks.
Long live the King! Henrik Lundqvist is only 34 years old and still has lots to give in his career, so I wouldn't expect the minutes to change for him this season, as it was outlined as a 1st round pick conversation. Antti Raanta remains as the back-up, but I don't think the Rangers improved much, hindering his projection a bit.
Team To Pick From?
The Rangers defense may have some quality late in the draft and that is something worth jumping all over, if they popped up on your list. A guy like Dan Girardi hasn't popped off the scoresheet in recent years, but if he is available in the last couple of rounds, he's the kind of guy that you can certainly gamble on with a bit more confidence.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Jesper Fast remains the only key restricted free agent left to be signed in this off-season, but without much leverage, it doesn't seem like the job should be too difficult for the Rangers. Fast did make his way into an everyday job, so holding out any will hurt his numbers, undoubtedly.
The Rangers are not struggling for salary cap space and that just seems like something strange to say. I still have $5.8 million left under the cap ceiling with a 23-man projected roster today, which doesn't sound right, when talking about the rich Rangers.
In the off-season, forward Oscar Lindberg underwent hip surgery and was expected to miss six months, which will likely delay his season debut, somewhere into November. Lindberg was impressive as a rookie and once healthy again, will look to build on that start to his career.