What history tells us about how Rangers might fare in 2024-25 after winning Presidents’ Trophy

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The past doesn’t always predict the future. But when analyzing how the New York Rangers have fared the season after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, there are three examples from the past to study when trying to predict how the Blueshirts may follow up this season’s success in 2024-25.

The Rangers have won the Presidents’ Trophy as the best regular-season team in the NHL four times, including this season when they had a franchise record 55 wins and 114 points. They won it in 1991-92, 1993-94 and 2014-15 prior to this season. However, in the previous three follow-up seasons, things didn’t go so well for the Blueshirts.

Now they might be able to buck their own history because recently, some teams who were Presidents’ Trophy winners one season ended up hoisting the Stanley Cup the following season. That new trend started with the Washington Capitals in 2018 and was followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2022.

But let’s examine how the Rangers responded the season following winning the Presidents’ Trophy to get a historical take on what might happen on Broadway next season.

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Rangers have best season in decades, then fail to make playoffs: 1992-93

1991-92: 50-25-5 (105 points) 1st in Patrick Division and 1st overall

1992-93: 34-39-11 (79 points) 6th in Patrick Division and 19th overall

The Rangers teams of the early 1970s registered the first 100-point campaigns in franchise history, reaching 109 (1971), 109 (1972), and 102 (1973). They didn’t reach that many points again until 1991-92, after Mark Messier arrived on Broadway.

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During Messier’s first season with the Rangers, they jumped 20 points in the standings to finish 1991-92 with 105 points, an improvement from 85 the previous season, to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. In the first round of the playoffs, they won a nail-biter of a series against the New Jersey Devils in seven games before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, blowing a 2-1 series lead.

Unfortunately, the Rangers did not duplicate their success the following season, dropping to sixth in the Patrick Division and firing coach Roger Neilson after 40 games in 1992-93. Following a Hart Trophy season, Messier didn’t crack 100 points. Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch went down with a broken ankle, missing 48 games. It wasn’t pretty at all.

Despite boasting a lineup that included five future Hall of Famers, including Mike Gartner, Kevin Lowe, and Sergei Zubov, the Rangers were a mess in every imaginable way. Instead of more success, they were instead booed off the Madison Square Garden ice at the end of the season. Yes, Messier, heard the loudest of the vitriol directed at him.

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Rangers follow Stanley Cup title with shortened-season dud: 1994-95

1993-94: 52-24-8 (112 points) 1st in Atlantic Division and 1st overall

1994-95: 22-23-3 (47 points) 4th in Atlantic Division and 14th overall

After winning both the Stanley Cup and Presidents’ Trophy in 1993-94, the Rangers faced massive obstacles in the shortened 1994-95 campaign. Coach Mike Keenan didn’t stick around long after the championship parade, agreeing to a deal with the St. Louis Blues, and was replaced by his assistant Colin Campbell. And the defending champions regressed from their dominant season the year before.

After a player’s strike delayed the start to the 1994-95 season, New York stumbled early, opening up 2-5-1 en-route to a 22-23-3 record and fourth place finish in the Atlantic Division. With 47 points, they were the lowest seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They faced the Quebec Nordiques in the first round, and defeated them in six games, though it wasn’t easy at all. Their championship reign ended in the second round when the Rangers were swept by the Philadelphia Flyers in the Conference Semi-Finals.

Related: Igor Shesterkin’s journey with Rangers likely to include richest NHL goalie contract

Rangers can’t follow up deep playoff run: 2015-16

2014-15: 53-22-7 (113 points) 1st in Metropolitan Division and 1st overall

2015-16: 46-27-9 (101 points) 3rd in Metropolitan Division and 9th overall

In June 2014, the Rangers were in the Stanley Cup Final, losing a heartbreaker to the Los Angeles Kings, who won their second title in three years. Less than 12 months later, New York was atop the NHL standings winning their third Presidents’ Trophy. If ever it appears the Rangers were going to win another Stanley Cup championship, 2015 seemed to be the year.

Henrik Lundqvist
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But the Rangers were decimated by injuries and fell one win short of reaching the Cup Final in 2015, dropping Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at MSG to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers responded with another excellent campaign in 2015-16, their best following a Presidents’ Trophy season. They collected 101 points, their third season reaching triple digits since the start of the salary cap era in 2005.

However, the Rangers faced the Penguins (104 points) in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in five games. Even though they collected 102 points in 2016-17 and lost in the second round, the run in 2014 was the closest the core, led by Henrik Lundqvist, ever got to winning a championship.

Related: Filip Chytil could have ‘major impact’ on Rangers next season

Historical perspective for Rangers to ponder

On the four occasions the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy, they lost in the second round (1992), won the Stanley Cup (1994), and went to the Eastern Conference Final twice (2015, 2024). That’s not too bad. Statistically, they have produced an average winning percentage of .676 in those seasons.

But following it up hasn’t been as pretty.

In the seasons after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, the Rangers failed to make the playoffs (1993), got eliminated in the second round (1995), and couldn’t win a playoff series (2016). Moreover, their win percentages during those seasons averaged .525, a drop of more than .151 percentage points.

There is no telling what the Rangers have in store in 2024-25. But with Igor Shesterkin leading a star-studded cast, New York has a chance to continue a trend of recent Presidents’ Winners to go on to win the Stanley Cup. Or, at the very least, break a team tradition and go on a deep run.

Some of Ryan Gagne's all-time favorite goalies have been Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, and Igor Shesterkin. As a Yankees... More about Ryan Gagne

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