1. Derek Stepan, Rick Nash Still Wearing Rangers Sweaters
Derek Stepan had an incredible postseason for the Rangers this year, taking his game to a whole new level. One of the best thing about Stepan this year was that he was able to find space a lot, and not just in the Playoffs, it’s pretty much the reason he was able to score so many goals in the Playoffs; he’s finding the right positions, and he’s just slotting the pucks in.
Stepan recently signed a new six year deal with the Rangers, worth $6.5 million a year. And although the price that the Rangers paid may have been a little more than they would have wanted, getting Stepan locked down was the best thing that could have happened.
People argue that Stepan isn’t worth $6.5 million a year simply because he has never had a 60 point-plus season, but you simply can’t just his salary just from that statistic alone. Stepan brings so much more to the Rangers than just goal scoring, he has tremendous vision, can help defensively, is always an option on the power play as well as on the Penalty Kill. Furthermore, he’s always a guy you can rely on to step up when you need somebody to.
Now that Stepan is completely locked down with the Rangers, I think this could be the season where he breaks the 60 point barrier. With how he performed in the Playoffs last season I think he really is starting to, and already has evolved into a tremendous player.
Rick Nash is the Rangers star-forward who enjoyed an incredible regular season with the Rangers this year. He finished off the regular season with 42 goals and 27 assists in 79 games. As well as scoring six power play goals, four shorthanded goals, and eight game-winning goals, Nash was a regular season monster.
The playoffs have been another story all together for the guy. Nash didn’t continue his scoring form, nor has he ever, but does that really matter? If you look at it in the way that he is paid just under $8 million dollars a year to score goals, then yes, it probably does. But towards the end of the Rangers cup run he did start to find the net more in the playoffs. He finished the postseason with vie goals, and nine assists in 19 games. Not exactly as pretty as his regular season statistics, but they still had a huge impact for the Rangers.
The thing Nash needs to do more is use his body. He is a huge guy standing at 6’4″ and weighing 220 lbs. If I saw Nash coming at me with speed, I would turn away and run the other way. If he can crash the net in the same way that Chris Kreider does and not be afraid to be more physical, he can bring so much more to his game.
If Nash can repeat last seasons performance in the regular season, he could be looking at a 50+ goal season. But the most important thing for Nash is to prove that he is paid $8 million a year for a reason, and if the Rangers can progress to the Playoffs again he needs to do exactly that.
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