Captain Ryan McDonagh is one of the best defenseman the New York Rangers have, but he needs to have a strong come back off of last year.
By Jay Travers
For the New York Rangers it seemed that Ryan McDonagh was going to be the next captain after Ryan Callahan was traded away to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014.
It happened. Then, after his first year as captain McDonagh seemed to have a tough time getting used to the role, allowing some of his play to suffer from time to time. He definitely didn’t put up the offensive numbers we saw from him the previous year, jumping down to eight goals last season as opposed to his 14 in 2014. McDonagh’s assist numbers dropped a little bit as well, from 29 in 2014 to 25 last year.
Thankfully McDonagh was the best Rangers player during the playoffs last year, even playing on a broken foot during the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa. But the question that lies ahead is this: Will McDonagh have a bounce back year?
The first reason why he will have a good year in 2016 is that he’ll be more comfortable leading.
As the season went on it seemed that McDonagh felt a little more comfortable every game, and that’s a phenomenal sign. Again in the playoffs McDonagh lead, and yet again, got better and better with the prestigious “C” on his chest. He just needed time to adjust. Being named captain just before the season starts is never easy, but he did it and will continue to lead.
Another reason why McDonagh will bounce back strong is that he’s gotten another year older.
As you age in the NHL it can be good and bad. But when you’re a young player who has a very strong future ahead as a dominant two way defenseman, maturity is nothing but gold. In his first year in the NHL McDonagh made a statement. While playing alongside veteran Dan Girardi on the blueline, McDonagh was able to log in a total time on ice of 1693.9 minutes in 2012. McDonagh played big minutes throughout the year and was a major reason the Blueshirts made it to the East Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Finally, but not least important, McDonagh will have a good year in 2015-16 because he will have be on a team that he’s very comfortable with.
Since 2012 the Rangers have made the Eastern Conference Final three out of four tries, including one trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. There have been a few trades made meaning the core is still intact. Young core members such as Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan at center; Chris Kreider on the wing; Girardi and McDonagh at the blueline; and Henrik Lundqvist in goal – this group of guys has been together since 2013 and haven’t looked back since.
Without a doubt, I think Ryan McDonagh will have a wonderful year in 2016 while leading the New York Rangers as captain. However, McDonagh will be a small piece of a 23 man roster. The team will need to work together every night in order to become part of hockey history.
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