Leading up to the 2018 season, it looks like we'll see a few more fresh faces in this lineup, as the bubble seems to be pretty big, down at the bottom of the roster, which is pretty exciting. The Rangers let go of Derek Stepan to the Coyotes, opening up more cap room and they brought in a offensively-minded defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk, hoping to spark something from the back end more often.
The Rangers are going to be a fast team, if you didn't notice that at all either. Using team speed has worked in a lot of cases around the league and the Rangers are certainly putting together a club that can skate really well and will also have a little bit of finish to their game too. These guys could be a whole lot of fun to watch this season and maybe even a much better team to pick from as well.
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The NCAA products are a tough bunch to gauge, especially when they are coming out of college and right into the NHL. Jimmy Vesey was no different, but he certainly lived up to the hype, leaving the Nashville Predators for free agency last summer and winding up with the Rangers, he gave the blueshirts every opportunity to thank their lucky stars he went to free agency.
His rookie season was good enough for 16 goals and 27 points in 80 games and now his sophomore season is yet another intriguing chapter. The kid has talent, but the Rangers are also fairly deep. If his talent rises to the surface, he'll shoot up the depth charts, no problem. How much am I willing to bet that'll happen? I'm a tad hesitant right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if he made that jump.
First Round Picks
The aging Henrik Lundqvist is not short on skill and that was definitely confirmed last season, where he had a pretty good year, but if the Rangers are going to be playing a run-and-gun game, utilizing their speed, the counter-attack from their opponents on the ice will be ready to take the puck the other way, if the Rangers don't pot it the first time. This could be the Achilles heel to the team, but Lundqvist should battle his way through most of those nights, you just have to know that there will be a few that won't go his way.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
This speedy offense has some real potential for fireworks and this is a team I think I would really get behind. I have nine forwards on this team listed as worthy, which seems a bit excessive and bound for failure, but here goes. Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes are now set to lead the way, Rick Nash moves into a secondary role, which should help him, Mika Zibanejad got paid in the off-season, Pavel Buchnevich is set to break out, while Michael Grabner will contribute and Vesey is my intriguing player, so it's all there.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Can the defense hold up? They'll be able to skate with the best of them and even contribute in the 2018 season. Newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk will have a lot on his plate this year, Ryan McDonagh will have to lead by example, while Brady Skjei and Nick Holden are going to be tasked with just being solid contributors at both ends.
Behind Lundqvist will be the redemption season for Ondrej Pavelec, who will move to a solid number two spot and he should keep getting regular starts, as the Rangers will be more and more likely to give Lundqvist the night off on back-to-backs or after some long stretches.
Team To Pick From Late?
There is a lot of talent to pick from in the worthy columns, it would almost be greedy to think that they will spread the wealth any further to allow for another player or two to be pool worthy. I don't think I'll jump on that train here, try and figure out a way to tap the Rangers offense, because it looks like it could be good this year.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
All of the Rangers' restricted free agents that I still have listed have all gone to Europe, so they should be free and clear for training camp, not to mention already having a pretty full lineup, they should be pretty happy about where they stand.
The Rangers are also looking at about $2.8 million in unused cap space, so they will have a little bit of play, if needed this year. A quick team that can possibly add, if necessary? That's pretty exciting.
Forward Jesper Fast underwent hip surgery in June and there is a good chance that he could miss the start of the regular season, given the five months recovery time, quoted in some of the reports. There hasn't been anything too definitive one way or the other, this far into the summer, but I can't see the Rangers rushing him along too quickly at the start of the season.