5 Bold Predictions for the 2023-24 New York Rangers
After a long grueling five months, the heartache of the Game 7 stinger against the New Jersey Devils will finally lessen with the New York Rangers season set to begin on Thursday in a road matchup against the Buffalo Sabres.
Training Camp under new head coach Peter Laviolette has passed and the Rangers underwhelming preseason record of 1-5-0 is behind them. Will Cuylle has cracked a spot in the Rangers top-nine which was one of the biggest surprises. Meanwhile, Alexis Lafreniére had a lackluster preseason performance raising questions regarding his role in the top-six spot on right wing.
As the new Rangers’ season is about to get underway, here are five bold predictions for fans to consider.
5 Bold New York Rangers Predictions
1. Filip Chytil will score over 30 goals
The time is now for the 24 year-old center, who is already entering his 7th season with the Rangers. Having a young player like Chytil as one of the longest tenured players on the team shows that he has been steadily improving. After a career-year following his outstanding playoff performance in the Rangers trip to the Eastern Conference Final two seasons ago, Chytil earned himself a four-year deal worth $17.75 million while scoring a career-high 22 goals last season.
It is important to note that Chytil scored those goals while playing in 74 out of 82 games, but above all, Chytil was primarily a third line center averaging 14:21 TOI. Moreover, Chytil rarely saw any power play time last season. With Vincent Trocheck set to center a third line shutdown unit, Chytil will slide in as the second line center. Playing with Artemi Panarin, and getting some power play time, will give him numerous opportunities to net more than thirty goals.
2. Zac Jones will be traded during the season
Zac Jones has not found his ground yet with the Rangers. After only playing a small portion of games to start the season last year, he was sent back to the Hartford Wolf Pack. This year during training camp Jones was given the opportunity to beat out Erik Gustafsson to win a spot on the third defensive paring with Braden Schneider Along with Gustafsson’s familiarity with Laviolette and impressive offensive performances, Jones lost the battle.
Jones did not underperform during preseason, but he did not have any eye opening moments to earn a spot on the opening night lineup. He will be a healthy scratch to start the season and if Gustafsson and Schneider become a good third pairing, he’ll likely be suiting up elsewhere at some point. Jones has talent, but his time in New York might be coming to an end. Expect Jones to be traded for another prospsect or a rental during March’s trade deadline.
3. Igor Shesterkin will win his second Vezina Trophy and win 40 games
After winning the Vezina trophy in a historic season two years ago, Shesterkin was unlikely to have an encore performance. Despite many calling last season a down year for the Rangers netminder, Shesterkin still managed 37 wins, a 2.48 GAA, .916 SV%, with three shutouts. In camp, Shesterkin admitted that he put too much pressure on himself last season.
“I just want to be positive every day right now,” said Shesterkin. “Because last season I was so mad [at] myself because I didn’t play like I want. I think you remember how I was every practice. So mad. I didn’t want to talk too much to anybody except my family.”
Shesterkin is destined for another Vezina type campaign this year. He will likely start close to sixty games with the Rangers and will be the backbone of the team. Throughout his amazing start to his career, Shesterkin has carried the Rangers during defensive breakdowns and helped the team win games that they shouldn’t have. With a new defensive structure in place under Peter Laviolette, Shesterkin will once again thrive en route to winning forty games. He will also secure his second Vezina by beating out his countrymen and best friend, Ilya Sorokin.
4. Peter Laviolette will win his first Jack Adams Award
It is surprising that Peter Laviolette, who is the winningest American-born head coach in NHL history hasn’t won the Jack Adams Award. If that wasn’t enough, Laviolette also has a Stanley Cup on his resume with two other Final appearances.
That being said, this will be the season for Laviolette to finally capture his elusive Jack Adams Award
Laviolette has been successful in his first year as a new coach of his past teams. He took the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 against Chicago Blackhawks. He also took the Islanders to the playoffs in both season he coached there after the team missed the playoffs the past seven seasons before his arrival. He took the Predators to the Finals in 2017 and had a lot of success coaching them. Laviolette comes to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, a top goalie in the league, talented offensive core, and solid defensive group that he will institute a fast-paced tempo to have an incredible season.
5. The New York Rangers will win the Stanley Cup
Finally, the best prediction saved for last.
Although Rangers fans have this as their dream prediction every year, this year will be different. Last season, the Rangers were projected to be a top team in the East and were picked by many to win the Cup. This was for good reason as the Rangers were two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup going into last season and then acquired Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko in pursuit of deep playoff run.
The deadline acquisitions did not play out and the Rangers were eliminated in the first round. With lofty expectations last Spring, came increased pressure for New York, who couldn’t find their swagger as they did two seasons ago.
This year it is the Devils and Hurricanes who are projected to be the contenders out of the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have a chip on their shoulder this year after losing to their upstart rivals. There are fewer expectations for the Rangers this season and the team will prove doubters wrong. There will be a parade down The Canyon of Heroes in June and the Rangers will win their franchise 5th championship.
We all dream of bold predictions coming to life. Only time will tell before we see if some of these come true, especially the Rangers putting an end to another long Cup drought approaching 30 years.
The puck drops Thursday in Buffalo, with another season of Blueshirts’ excitement on the horizon.