Arguably, the Rangers didn't do that badly, acquiring the likes of Ryan Spooner, Vladislav Namestnikov and a bunch of prospects and picks, which could turn around and do some good for this team right away.
In putting together the list for this year's projections, I really got the feeling that they had done well, assembling a group of players that can skate well, move the puck out of their own zone and even offer a fair bit of finish as well. By no means, do they rise above a lot of the top teams, in terms of skill, but these Rangers should be competitive enough from the outset of the season, where they could post a few more wins than originally expected. They still have one of the best goalies in the league behind them and he'll still be capable enough to steal a bunch of games down the stretch.
Table last updated on August 11th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
When the Rangers acquired Ryan Spooner from the Bruins, one could have thought it was a bit of a throw-in roster player, but his production when coming to the Rangers made it look like a very shrewd move by the Blueshirts, picking him up.
Spooner posted 16 points in 20 games with his new club and signed a new 2-year deal in the off-season to stick around for a bit. This could certainly be the opportunity that he needs to spread his wings and be a top three player on a team, since this club is in a state of flux, given their rebuild/retool situation. This certainly makes him an intriguing player moving forward.
First Round Picks
There hasn't been a pool projections post, that I've done for the Rangers, that didn't include Henrik Lundqvist as a 1st round pick projection and this goes all the way back to 2012. Well, here we are, in 2018, waiting on the 2019 season and he isn't there anymore. The 36-year old has seen a steady decline in his projections through the years and now he has fallen out. I still think he's very worthy of a selection, but I'm not going to be in a rush to snag him this season. In fact, there are no Rangers worthy of the opening round this year, as their rebuild, as quickly as it might be going, is missing that elite scoring talent.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The current projection of the Rangers forwards is a decent mix of youth and veteran, which makes it an interesting group to sort through. Spooner leads this group in my projections, but he's closely followed by some Rangers regulars in Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes, while there's some quality depth there with Vladislav Namestnikov, Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey and rookie candidate Lias Andersson.
Other Pool Worthy Defensemen
On the blueline, the Rangers don't have a great deal of upper echelon talent on the projection table above, as Kevin Shattenkirk and Brady Skjei are the only two considered to be worthy of a selection at the draft. They are certainly developing some more talent in the system, but it's going to be a while yet before they are ready. This lack of puck movement from the back end, could be part of their eventual undoing this season.
The goaltending tandem will be Henrik Lundqvist and Marek Mazanec, by the look of things, but the Rangers do have some talent working their way through the system and are now getting seasoned in the minors. This year's tandem isn't pegged for a great deal of points, as Lundqvist is only a 65-point projection and Mazanec isn't worthy at a 15-point projection, but that could all change at the drop of a hat too. The Rangers should be competitive, but I'm not sure that the goaltending will steal as many games as they need.
Team to Pick From Late?
I don't have the Rangers as a big scoring team this season, but there are a couple of possible dark horses in their lineup, which could surprise some. Jesper Fast could still breakthrough with a few more minutes of ice-time and defenseman Neil Pionk had a good scoring record in a short period of time with the team, so if can translate that into a full season, he'd be worth considering too.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Rangers are free and clear on the free agent side of things, no restricted free agents of note left to deal with and their current 23-man roster is coming in with almost $5 million in extra cap space. That isn't the same kind of numbers we've seen from some other rebuilding clubs these days, but usually, by now, the Rangers are already pinching their pennies, so things are moving in a positive direction in the Big Apple.
The Rangers sure had a lot of bodies on the injured list by the end of the season, but between them all, it doesn't look like there is any cause for concern at the moment. They all seem to be in relatively good shape, heading towards camp, everyone seems probable to be ready for the start of the season.