Handing Out Early Season Awards
There is so much that can wrong for the Blueshirts in 2018-19, but there is also plenty that can go right. To build off that, let’s take a look at some potential surprises and disappointments that can happen in 2018-19.
Most Improved: Pavel Buchnevich
Pavel Buchnevich is expected to have the best season of his career as former coach Alain Vigneault is no longer behind the bench curtailing his every move. The Russian forward has had a great start to training camp this season showing plenty of speed and scoring this preseason. In the three games he has appeared he has scored two goals as he has seen plenty of power play time.
Buchnevich will get the opportunity to be a top scoring forward for the Rangers as head coach David Quinn has shown he has confidence in the forward since early on in camp.
The winger is entering the final year of his entry-level contract, which should give Buchnevich a little more motivation to have his best career year with the team.
Biggest Disappointment: Vladislav Namestnikov
There might not be high expectations for Vladislav Namestnikov but, we all know the potential that the 25-year-old has. However, that potential just has not translated over on Broadway.
The hope in the offseason was that his 19 game disappearance was just a fluke and an adjustment period for Namestnikov, but it might not be that simple. The fact of the matter is that he has not done anything throughout the preseason and, his past success might just have been a result of playing with Steve Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Namestnikov will be given every opportunity to avenge his dreadful Broadway debut. But, the fact of the matter is that there is way too much talent in the shadows looking for a roster spot. Any player that struggles early could be out of a spot.
- MVP: Chris Kreider
- Runnerup: Mika Zibanejad
- Goals Leader: Chris Kreider (28)
- Assists Leader: Mats Zuccarello (41)
- Points Leader: Pavel Buchnevich (60)
- Rookie of the Year: Brett Howden
This is going to be a big year for both Kreider and Buchnevich.
Kreider is expected to have put it all together while taking on a larger role this year. If he can be the player the Rangers think he can then the rest of the hockey world will be on notice.
For Buchnevich, this is a big season for him for many reasons. Most importantly, he needs to go out there and prove that his inconsistencies had everything to do with his usage under Vigneault than it did with his individual game. Expect big things from him this season.