Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has high hopes for the 2018-19 season. He might want to temper those expectations a bit.

Henrik Lundqvist is the most competitive player most of us have ever seen play for the New York Rangers. Whether it is in practice, the preseason, or the Stanley Cup Finals, Lundqvist’s thirst for victory is insatiable.

This evident desire to win was ever-present Monday when Lundqvist, looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, told Larry Brooks of the New York Post that “next year has to be about winning and nothing else.”

Moments like these truly exhibit why I idolize Lundqvist as much as I do. Since I started watching hockey seriously in 2005-06 as a nine-year-old, Lundqvist has provided me with a hero to watch around three times a week.

While my aspirations have never been to become a goaltender in the NHL, Lundqvist’s admirable attributes correlate to anything one may endeavor to pursue in life. His desire to succeed is unlike anything I have seen from an NHL player in my short experience of watching the game. Additionally, his leadership has guided the Rangers through tough times, most importantly, now. 

But, let’s be realistic here Hank. This team is nowhere near contention, and will not be for another three years (if everything works out perfectly).

While the foundations of a great forward group are here, the defense remains in shambles. To allow the forward corps to properly grow, another two or three years or necessary. To rebuild this inept defense, maybe three to four years.

No, optimistic Ranger fans, signing John Tavares will not immediately fix the forward corps. He wouldn’t sign here anyway.

Signing Erik Karlsson won’t ameliorate the worst defense I have ever seen the Rangers deploy. They will not sign or trade for him.

And no, optimistic Ranger fans, Ilya Kovalchuk won’t revive and channel his remarkable sniping ability from 10 years ago and score 40 goals for the team in 2019, though signing him is a distinct possibility.

The point is that it is extremely unlikely that the New York Rangers are serious contenders next year. The team’s young stars are still developing, the team’s future depth players are working their way through the system, and the organization remains enveloped in a rebuilding ideology.

The foundation for another great group of Rangers is here. By the time the 2018 NHL Draft passes, the Rangers should have a very bright future ahead of them.

In the meantime, to deter from the current path of rebuilding would be disastrous. When a team is on the fence about competing or rebuilding and elects to take a rebuild-on-the-fly approach, while intending to compete, the results are often very bad.

Look at the move the Rangers made earlier this season. They traded Derek Stepan, a player that had been a young leader, a two-way center, and a top-six forward o the Rangers for years. The return? A seventh overall pick and a prospect (Anthony DeAngelo). But this was the team that intended on competing again in 2017-18? The move made no sense.

The Rangers must stay on the course that they are on, even if it comes at a cost for Henrik Lundqvist and his chase for a deserved title. They finally have an exciting group of players in Hartford and in their system.

Next season is not for winning. It is for development only. My ideology goes as follows: if you are not built to seriously contend, your primary focus must be to develop your young players and to shoot for a more realistic timetable. In other words, give the kids more playing time, and the grizzly and unskilled veterans less playing time.

If the Rangers play their cards right, and Lundqvist remains on a solid level until the end of his career, the Rangers should have a great chance of competing in what will likely be Lundqvist’s final year with the team: 2020-21. No sooner, no later should “winning and nothing else” be a realistic objective for this young and developing team.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Hell NO on Tavares or Erik Karlsson….Im scared because altho getting rid of Stepan was the right move…the return is terrible…We dont know if ADA is a legit NHL defenseman and right now altho its early…Anderson screams bottom 6 forward….for the #7 pick…thats a failure

  2. Funny how people are bitching about the Stephan trade after the fact. It was a panic deal because the organization wanted to say they had a 1st round pick. Andersson at 7th overall makes sense when you consider that last year’s draft was the weakest class in the last 20 years. CSB called Andersson the safest pick in the draft. D’Angelo or Pionk might by moved at the draft this year or during the 2018 training camp. With Shattenkirk as the #1 RD, we won’t need 3 of them, and right handed RD’s have value in the league.
    They need to build up the blue line starting with Skeji, Shattenkirk, Staal. A real two way 3rd line and a pure 4th checking line…not just putting out whoever is available. Paul Carey? Steve Kampfer? Peter Holland? Boo Nieves? Dump them. Brendan Smith? Buy him out.
    Trade Zucc or Hayes with a late 1st Rd pick to move up to the middle of the round and get 2 solid kids who can play the wings in a couple of years. Sign Spooner & Namestinkov and have them on the wings for now.
    And before all of this happens…AV:s head on a pike outside of the Garden. Going forward, he cannot be the coach after Saturday afternoon’s game ends.

    • Trade Zucc or Hayes?? Did you hit your head on something? This team cannot be comprised of 20 teenagers… When are you trying to be competitive again? 2048? This team needs veteran leadership and must keep guys like this, who are two of the more offensively reliant players to begin with, around. I agree with dumping the expendables, but have a little more loyalty for Christ’s sake…

      • Obviously you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Zuccarello has 1 year left on his contract at 4.5M and turns 31 just before training camp starts. He’s not a goal scorer, and they are not going to sign him for more money, or term, after ’18-’19. Those are the same reasons McDonagh was traded a few weeks ago, and he was younger then Zuccarello. Trade him while he has value. Time to put Buchnevich on one of the top 2 lines and can replace Zuccarello
        Hayes is an RFA. So are Vesey, Skeji, Spooner & Namestinkov. They are all going to be looking for about between 4 to 4.5M a year for around 4 to 6 years. The Rangers aren’t going to keep all of them, so Trade Hayes while he still has value. Spooner can slot into Hayes spot.
        The only teenagers that might make the team next season are Chytil & Andersson. Most of the roster will be players between 23 to 29 years old. Guys like Krieder, Zibanejad Shattenkirk, Staal, Lundquist and when he signs Kovalchuk will be on the roster. There are the guys who have been in professional hockey long enough to provide “veteran leadership”
        Loyalty? There is no loyalty in Rangers management, only business. Otherwise McDonagh & Miller would still be on the team.

        • I guess I didn’t expect the hyperbole of “20 teenagers” to be taken so literally, put away your magnifying glass. I meant we cannot have a team where the most experienced players were rookies only a few seasons ago while there is an influx of very young players coming in. Trading valuables that aren’t a bitch to resign for the draft in my opinion will make this rebuild a hell of a lot slower.. Players like this in their primes with playoff experience are valuable to this process for yes, veteran leadership.

          If resigning Zucc for another couple years at age 31 when he is the leading point producer on the team for consecutive years is such a terrible idea, than why the hell would they be agreeing to a deal with a 35 year old kovalchuk who hasn’t played in this league, which has completely changed in style since he left, in 6 years?? Why would they take that risk?
          Also, they traded mcdonagh because of the position the team was in, not because they didn’t want to resign him for more term or money… This is New York, they have the money to resign a franchise cornerstone in Ryan mcdonagh if they want. It was for the betterment of the future.

          And what makes you think of all of the RFA’s that Hayes is the lock to trade? he’s gonna be only 26 and is just starting to hit his stride, not only as a goal scorer, but defensively as well. The kid plays a 200 foot game and was undisputedly one of the best players on the ice in a season of travesty, and you want to trade him just to move up a couple spots in the draft? Smh.
          If you know anything about Hayes as a player, then you’d understand why what he brings to the ice is rare/ invaluable and needed by the rangers at this moment and in the future. Spooner is not the same type player. No one else on the team is. Besides, both spooner and Hayes can play multiple positions, why would you need to replace one with the other? Out of the RFAs you named, Hayes probably deserves a long deal the most. You think Namestnikov, mr 4 points in 20 odd games on the team, is worth it more? What a laugh. If they’re going to move someone it outta be him and/ or deangelo.

          If you watched any portion of the post deadline games at all, then you would know that this team is too porous and inexperienced right now to be trading away the few players that click, and aren’t absurdly old for that matter, for draft picks..
          Not saying I know what gorton is going to do, or even that I know best, but to dismiss two of the most consistent players from a season like this is absolutely preposterous… go root for the devils or something, your flakey fanhood and misguided arrogance would be better suited there.

        • I guess I didn’t expect the hyperbole of “20 teenagers” to be taken so literally, put away your magnifying glass. I meant we cannot have a team where the most experienced players were rookies only a few seasons ago while there is an influx of very young players coming in. Trading valuables that aren’t a bitch to resign for the draft in my opinion will make this rebuild a hell of a lot slower.. Players like this in their primes with playoff experience are valuable to this process for yes, veteran leadership.

          If resigning Zucc for another couple years at age 31 when he is the leading point producer on the team for consecutive years is such a terrible idea, than why the hell would they be agreeing to a deal with a 35 year old kovalchuk who hasn’t played in this league, which has completely changed in style since he left, in 6 years?? Why would they take that risk?
          Also, they traded mcdonagh because of the position the team was in, not because they didn’t want to resign him for more term or money… This is New York, they have the money to resign a franchise cornerstone in Ryan mcdonagh if they want. It was for the betterment of the future.

          And what makes you think of all of the RFA’s that Hayes is the lock to trade? he’s gonna be only 26 and is just starting to hit his stride, not only as a goal scorer, but defensively as well. The kid plays a 200 foot game and was undisputedly one of the best players on the ice in a season of travesty, and you want to trade him just to move up a couple spots in the draft? Smh.
          If you know anything about Hayes as a player, then you’d understand why what he brings to the ice is rare/ invaluable and needed by the rangers at this moment and in the future. Spooner is not the same type player. No one else on the team is. Besides, both spooner and Hayes can play multiple positions, why would you need to replace one with the other? Out of the RFAs you named, Hayes probably deserves a long deal the most. You think Namestnikov, mr 4 points in 20 odd games on the team, is worth it more? What a laugh. If they’re going to move someone it outta be him and/ or deangelo.

          If you watched any portion of the post deadline games at all, then you would know that this team is too porous and inexperienced right now to be trading away the few players that click, and aren’t absurdly old for that matter, for draft picks..
          Not saying I know what gorton is going to do, or even that I know best, but to dismiss two of the most consistent players from a season like this is absolutely preposterous… go root for the devils or something, your flakey fanhood and misguided arrogance would be better suited there.

        • Michael, if you are going to act like the man on these message boards, maybe you should actually know about the game of hockey so you can rebuttal with an intelligent response and not just mark someones valid points as spam…child…

  3. The Rangers making the Playoffs next year would turn into the worst thing that could befall the Rangers. If the Rangers are looking good come the All Star Break, I can see Gorton grabbing a Sather Cigar, lighting up and announcing the rebuild a huge success, and a HUGE trade to get us a cup.

  4. Agreed, better to be realistic than optimistic at this point. However, this is hockey. Teams can flip the switch quickly if the right pieces and intangibles are in place. I don’t expect a Stanley Cup contender but I expect playoffs to be a reality next season.