The New York Rangers start to the 2019-2020 season is quickly approaching and there are plenty of things to look forward to as September begins.
Happy Labor Day, New York Rangers fans. September is always an exciting time for Blueshirt fans.
This year, the excitement is overwhelming as the team prepares for what should be a thrilling time to see the boys lace up the skates and battle to once again strive for postseason play.
There are still plenty of questions that need to be answered, but one thing is already known: this year’s team should be more fun to watch with the arrival of players such as Kappo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and Igor Shesterkin.
The elephant in the room still lingers magnificently. Brendan Lemieux and Anthony DeAngelo still remain unsigned. Neither player has been willing to sign their qualifying offers, and with just 11 days until training camp begins, the thought of holding out is a distinct possibility.
Both players serve as a crucial part of the team and the hope of both the organization and the players coming to an agreement stands as a possible distraction as opening night draws closer. Little has been said by either side regarding new deals throughout the summer.
Unless a trade is made—unlikely for Lemiuex, but a possibility for Deangelo—this could drag out for most of camp.
The Rangers remain tight against the salary cap, so if the club wants to consider upping their offers, trades would need to be made. A scenario Jeff Gorton is unwilling or unable to do so far.
Upcoming Key Dates
Hockey will begin this week with Rangers fans finally seeing some of the prospects hitting the ice.
- The Traverse City Prospect Tournament begins Sept. 6 in Michigan.
- Rangers training camp will begin on Sept. 12.
- Preseason hockey will commence on Sept. 18 vs. the New Jersey Devils.
- Opening night is Oct. 3 vs the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden.
Head coach David Quinn, starting his second season behind the Rangers bench, will have plenty of decisions to make. He and his coaching staff will have to find a balance of rookie and veteran chemistry while instilling their system this year.
A key decision that needs to be addressed early on will be whether or not to name a captain. The team has been without one since they traded then captain Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.
Candidates will include Chris Kreider and/or Mika Zibanejad. Both are worthy of the position. Zibanejad would be a great choice, and with the future of Kreider cloudy at best due to his contract status, Quinn and his staff might lean towards putting the “C” on Mika’s chest.
Is Henrik Lundqvist the One?
Henrik Lundqvist is entering his 15th season as a Blueshirt. The 37-year-old has been the number one goalie since his career began in 2005.
Time is no longer his friend, and with back up goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and recently signed Igor Shesterkin both chasing the King for games, this could be the last season Henrik has the top position between the pipes.
He has lost a step in his game as do most players his age, but until the coaching staff believes he would fit better as a backup, he will lead the team out on to the ice most nights.
This situation might be the hardest one for Quinn to address, but the coach knows the needs of the team outweigh the loyalty of just one player.
It really is a question of when Quinn makes the switch rather if he decides to do it.
Of all the four major sports, the NHL training camp’s preseason schedule is the most important. The decisions made this September could dictate the outcome of the season.
The period of talking about players, systems and teams has ended. The time to walk the walk is upon us. Hockey games will be played this week which means players will be in full “I deserve to make this NHL hockey club” mode.
It’s a great time to be a Rangers fan.