Rangers announce training camp roster
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The first phase of the New York Rangers rebuild has been completed. Now it’s time to get a look at the second phase with the season winding down. 

Most feel that the New York Rangers did a great job with the first part of their rebuild by acquiring young talent and draft picks. Now part two of the rebuild will be on full display and it is time to get excited.

We have already seen an influx of young talent on this Rangers roster with Neal Pionk, John Gilmour, Rob O’Gara and Alexandar Georgiev playing key roles right now. As older players moved on, these youngsters have filled in quite nicely, giving the Rangers a chance to compete on a daily basis. Now they’ve added Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson to the mix.

The Rangers recalled Andersson and Chytil Sunday night and the two are expected to see plenty of playing time in the Rangers final seven games of the regular season. There is plenty of excitement surrounding both players’ recall because it’s giving Ranger fans something they haven’t had in a while.

Any successful team will tell you that you need a good mix of young players and veterans to win. Over the last two or three years, there hasn’t been the willingness to give young players big-time roles.

Players like Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey have seen action but have been somewhat limited by head coach Alain Vigneault who has been hesitant to let some young players crack the top of the Rangers lineup. For the Rangers to be successful, it’s time to let these youngsters grow.

The recalls of Anderson and Chytil are proof that the team is finally realizing that. But their arrival is just the first part of the second phase.

The aforementioned prospects and picks the team acquired will change the future of this organization. It’s what this second phase is all about. Not only will we see more of Georgiev, Pionk, and Gilmour, but we’ll get to see some of the guys we have been hearing about all season.

We’re talking about the likes of Ty Ronning, Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Vinni Lettieri, and others, who should all be given the chance in the 2018-19 preseason to showcase their talents.

Whether they make an impact on the NHL roster next year remains to be seen, but we will at least see what they bring to the table. If the Rangers draft well enough this summer, we could see some of those picks get a chance like Andersson and Chytil got this past fall.

Going into the draft the Rangers have three first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two third-round picks. General manager Jeff Gorton already said that he is willing to move some of those first-round picks, which also leads to another reason to be excited.

NHL teams place a high value on first-round picks. With the types of returns that Gorton got at the deadline, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he flipped some of those picks for high-level young talent. The offseason has so many possibilities for the Rangers and they will have plenty of time to explore them being out of the playoff picture for the first time in seven years.

But phase two isn’t all about the future. Let’s not forget about the youngsters already on the current roster and how they continue to grow and develop.

Mika Zibanejad has surpassed his career high in goals with 27 entering play Monday night. Chris Kreider is a completely different player since returning from injury. They, along with Brady Skjei, Jesper Fast, Buchnevich, and Vesey are continuing to mature. That’s the third part of phase two.

Phase two is just beginning for the Rangers. It’s going to be a fun time over the final two weeks of the regular season heading into the offseason. But there is one thing to remember: this is not a two-step rebuild.

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.