The New York Rangers have been linked to Ilya Kovalchuk for the last two months, but now it’s time to move on.
When thinking about Ilya Kovalchuk possibly joining the New York Rangers, one cannot help but think of how much he can help improve this roster.
But now as we sit here less than three weeks away from the start of free agency, that dream of Kovalchuk joining the Blueshirts is starting to fade away. He has reportedly told the Rangers that they need to prove to him that they can win in the next few years. Here’s the thing, they can’t.
How can a team that decided to uphaul a bulk of their roster a season ago prove that they can win? Yes, the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist, the backbone of this team for the last 13 years. He’s proven to carry teams that shouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs into actually being a contender.
But this time around it doesn’t feel like Lundqvist can do that. He’s currently 36-years-old, and while he’s shown flashes of brilliance, he hasn’t been as consistent as he’s been in the past.
Aside from Lundqvist, what else do the Rangers really have to show Kovalchuk that they are so close to winning? You could argue that they still have a winning core in place, but you have to ask yourself do they really?
Players like Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Hayes have all been apart of teams that have been to the Stanley Cup Final and Eastern Conference Finals. But outside of them, that’s it.
Instead, this current roster will most likely be made up of young players. Players like Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei, and Tony DeAngelo will make out the Blueshirts’ roster. This doesn’t include Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, and Yegor Rykov who the team acquired at the deadline a year ago. The team also has 10 draft picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
With young players, you can’t really gauge a time frame for success. So if you’re trying to go after a guy like Kovalchuk that means you have to completely change your plan. Now you might be wondering, how exactly would the Rangers change that plan?
Well instead of making the smart move that can help the team in the future, general manager Jeff Gorton would be forced to make moves that would result in the team winning now. That would mean being aggressive in trying to sign John Tavares, should he reach free agency. It means trading some of those 10 draft picks for older talent instead of younger talent.
By Gorton doing that, he only hurts the team in the future. Gorton has done so much so far that should he completely change his plan for one player, he would only be setting himself up to fail.
Kovalchuk isn’t coming back to the NHL to just play for the heck of it. He wants to chase the Stanley Cup. The Rangers are nowhere near that, and it’s time to put that dream to rest.