The New York Rangers will have some serious decisions to make with regard to their defensemen and goaltenders next season.
The New York Rangers have many promising defensive prospects and appear to have their goaltender of the future. However, most of their prospects are not NHL-ready yet, and they carried more goalies than they hoped in the latter part of this past season.
Let’s look at what the defense and the situation in goal might look like next year.
Ryan Lindgren-Adam Fox
Libor Hajek/new addition-Jacob Trouba
K’Andre Miller-Tony DeAngelo/new addition
For one, they were excellent last year and were hands down the team’s best pairing. Secondly, as of right now, it’s unclear who Trouba’s partner will be.
Last season it was Brendan Smith, but it seems likely that Smith won’t be with the team next year. The Rangers’ cap situation isn’t ideal, and the $4.35 million he’ll be making this upcoming season can be better allocated elsewhere.
I anticipate that he will either be traded or bought out. That leaves Libor Hajek as the most likely candidate to take Smith’s job. Hajek has had a rough start to his NHL career and simply cannot be a team’s top LHD.
The Rangers are currently lacking in NHL-ready LHD, and Hajek is one of their only options. However, if the front office deems it to be a priority, the Rangers may go out and get themselves a more legitimate LHD to play alongside Trouba.
The third pairing will be the most interesting to watch. K’Andre Miller, one of the Rangers’ top prospects, will likely serve as the third lefty defenseman.
This past season, Tony DeAngelo was the team’s third RHD but that can change. DeAngelo is another player who is going to be an RFA, but he’s coming off a phenomenal regular season and will command a large contract.
DeAngelo recorded 53 points in 68 games, good for fourth in the league among defensemen. He’s proven his worth offensively, especially on the power play, but is he worth the money?
The Rangers might not think so. DeAngelo’s extracurricular activities have been worth noting. He’s been known for being active on Twitter and isn’t scared to share his political views with the world — things that have caused controversy.
Recently, he appeared to challenge a fan to a fight over Twitter. These characteristics, coupled with DeAngelo’s history of racism/homophobia, are worrisome to any team that may be interested in him.
It’s also very important to note that DeAngelo is a defensive liability. He’s an offensive defenseman, a very good one at that, but is defensively ineffective.
If the Rangers want to avoid the drama that may come with the young defenseman and find a team that is willing to give whatever it takes to have him, they’ll get rid of him.
However, getting rid of DeAngelo poses yet another problem for the Rangers. They currently don’t have much in terms of NHL-ready RHD so if they do move on from DeAngelo, they’ll have to find a replacement, likely outside of the organization.
That’s what makes DeAngelo’s retention realistic, even though he likely isn’t in the team’s long-term plans, especially once prospect Nils Lundkvist comes up.
The goaltending situation isn’t exactly an easy one to decipher, either. It has become clear that Igor Shesterkin will be the team’s No. 1 option in goal moving forward. But who will back him up?
The Rangers carried three goalies this past season, but president John Davidson has already made it clear that that will not be the case next season. That means either Alexandar Georgiev or Henrik Lundqvist will be gone. My money is on Georgiev.
Georgiev is yet another Ranger who will be an RFA and his value has never been higher. The Rangers would be wise to deal him to a team that believes he can be their NO. 1 goalie.
Lundqvist’s time as the Rangers’ top net-minder appears to be up, but he’s shown that he still has it and will be a more than capable backup to his heir.
Lundqvist is not signed to a team-friendly deal, and that’s why the idea of the organization buying him out has been discussed. However, Lundqvist has one year left on his contract.
Coupled with the fact that he’s been the face and cornerstone of the franchise this millennium and is arguably the greatest Ranger of all time, he’s earned the right to end his career in New York on his own terms.
This will all depend on how greatly the organization believes it needs the money they would save by buying Lundqvist out and on the goaltender himself.
Even though he loves playing in New York and has expressed that he wants to retire a Ranger, he may not want to serve as a backup.
If the Rangers make it clear that he won’t be their starting goalie next year, he may agree to waive his no-trade clause and try to go win a Stanley Cup elsewhere.
This offseason will be big for the Rangers. They may actively look to get some help at the blue line, and will make an important decision with regard to who will be backing Shesterkin up in net.