The New York Rangers are a new team right now full of young talent. How have those players fared so far in their small auditions?
As the end of a dreadful 2017-18 season approaches the New York Rangers are going with a youth movement. Young players like John Gilmour, Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, Alexandar Georgiev, and Rob O’Gara have all had an impact in one way or another for this team.
As the end of the year looms, this is the time for these players to make an impression on Rangers management. This is the time that they can decide their fate for the 2018-19 season and whether or not they can be a part of the team’s future.
Since the trade deadline, these young players have led the Rangers to a 5-2-1 record which is eighth-best in the NHL. So far the early returns have been impressive, but how have the youngsters faired so far?
There is an argument that Pionk deserved to make the Rangers opening night roster after an impressive training camp. The problem was that he would be used a seventh defenseman when he could have gotten more playing time in Hartford.
Since being recalled, Pionk has done nothing but impress both offensively and defensively. Since being recalled on Feb. 9, Pionk leads all rookie defensemen in points and assists with nine. While the numbers are impressive, Pionk’s puck movement is something to marvel at and look for as he matures.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 15, 2018
Watch how Pionk breaks up the play in front of the net and then escapes the forechecker. This is something that the Rangers don’t do. Instead, they normally throw the puck to the middle of the ice resulting in a turnover and a quality scoring chance against. In this instance, Pionk escaped pressure, didn’t turn the puck over, and found Mika Zibanejad for the game-winning goal.
If there is one thing to like about Gilmour’s game is his ability to join the rush and make things happen offensively, while still being responsible in the defensive end.
RYAN SPOONER FEEDS A GORGEOUS DISH TO JOHN GILMOUR WHO BURIES A BEAUTIFUL TOP-SHELF WRISTER! RANGERS WIN IN OVERTIME! pic.twitter.com/zMXVemdOTD
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 1, 2018
Even though this is overtime, Gilmour joins the rush and finds himself around the net for a scoring chance. This is something that he has been doing as he has gotten more and more comfortable at the NHL level.
There were multiple instances against Pittsburgh Wednesday night where Gilmour led the rush and got involved in the offensive zone. Those scoring chances didn’t result in the Rangers scoring, but it is something that the Rangers thought they would miss with the trade of Ryan McDonagh. Gilmour continues to be impressive and the more he shows that type of talent, the more likely it is that he will find a home in the NHL.
Tony DeAngelo was one of the major pieces in the Derek Stepan trade. After a rough start to the season, he has finally begun to show the type of player he can be.
Watch the stretch pass from DeAngelo to find Ryan Spooner for the eventual scoring chance and goal. The ability to make a good first pass to get out your zone is something the Rangers have lacked all season.
Passes like that is what DeAngelo brings to the table and he has improved defensively as the season has progressed. Unfortunately for DeAngelo, his audition might have been cut short after suffering an injury against Carolina, but he has shown enough to get a chance to crack the Rangers roster in 2018-19.
O’Gara hasn’t had the success that some of the other Rangers young defensemen have had.
As you can see in the video, O’Gara has lost his man quite a bit in his short stint with the Rangers. But, those are the growing pains you will see when it comes to incorporating young talent into the lineup.
There is some potential for O’Gara to be a seventh or even a sixth defenseman in this league. He might just need some more seasoning in Hartford with a different voice. Out of all of the young players that the Rangers are looking at right now, O’Gara might be the odd man out of the rotation. He’s shown flashes of solid play, but it just isn’t there right now.
This isn’t the first time that Georgiev will be given high praise for his play.
Penguins awarded a penalty shot, Malkin takes it, no goal. To overtime we go pic.twitter.com/gCuJljmyA5
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 15, 2018
Just look how patient Georgiev is with this penalty shot on one of the games’ best in Evgeni Malkin. That patience is quite remarkable for a young goaltender in just his sixth career game.
But more impressively for Georgiev is the workload he has had to face. He faces an average of 35 shots on goal in the games he has played to start his young career. With that, he has a save percentage of .929 and a goals-against-average of 2.72. Now you would like for the goals-against-average to come down a little, and it will.
Georgiev is off to a great start and the Rangers are excited to see what else he can do.
Many thought that the Rangers lacked young talent because of some the moves they have made over last five years. Through this rebuild, they have shown that is simply not the case. They continue to scout well and are getting things right with undrafted free agents like Georgiev and Pionk.
What we have learned over the last month or so is that the future on the blueline and in goal is nothing but bright for the Rangers, and there are more prospects to come.