New York Rangers future on defense will only get brighter

k'andre miller
Jan 16, 2021; New York, NY, USA; K'Andre Miller #79 of the New York Rangers takes the shot in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on January 16, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years the Rangers have added Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, and Libor Hajek through trades. The crowd on the Rangers blue-line is only growing as K’Andre Miller, and Tarmo Reunanen have all made their presence known this season.

Jacob Trouba came at the steepest price in the way of a 1st round pick and Neal Pionk. Ryan Lindgren was a smaller piece in the Rick Nash deal. Adam Fox was modern day highway robbery for 2 picks, neither of which was a 1st rounder. And Libor Hajek was one of the pieces in the Ryan McDonagh trade that included a first round pick the team used to draft Nils Lundkvist. All great moves indeed.

Rangers Excellent Drafting of Defenseman

While the Rangers have improved their defense via trades they’ve done even better via the draft. Some of them are true gems as well. In the last few draft years K’Andre Miller (2018), Nils Lundkvist (2018), Braden Schneider (2020), Matthew Robertson (2019), and Zac Jones (2019) have jumped to the top of the Blueshirts prospect pool.

According to a team source, it’s widely believed all could play for the Rangers with Miller already impressing as a 21 year-old rookie. That will lead to some interesting conversations about trades soon. It will need to happen in order for the Rangers put forth the best team possible in the next few years. For instance, using maybe Matthew Robertson or Zac Jones as part of a package to land Jack Eichel this summer.

In the 2016 draft, Tarmo Reunanen was selected in the 4th round but he dropped significantly due to post injury struggles in his draft year. It appears the Rangers lucked out because over the last 12 months he has developed into a promising defenseman that can play either the left or right side without issue.

This steady stream of young promising defenders is an asset the Rangers can turn into something so much more.

Championship Blue-line

The real story will be what a future championship blue-line on Broadway will look like. We see Miller already asserting himself on the top pairing with Jacob Trouba. It is early in his career but Miller has proven he can play top minutes and opponents with his 20:38 average in 24 games this season.

nils Lundkvist
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nils Lundkvist is expected to sign his ELC this offseason and be penciled in as the third pair right defenseman to start. At just 20 years-old, Lundkvist is not only hanging with the men in the SHL, but thriving. He has 13 goals and 28 points on the year. Furthermore, he’s become a PP QB for Lulea and someone the Rangers will deploy in a similar manner next season.

But how do you fit Braden Schneider, Matthew Robertson and Zac Jones if they continue on their projected paths? The Rangers have a lot of pieces to build a championship defense, however that’s a story for another day. For now, a look at next season’s defense is tantalizing. I would project it as follows:

  • Miller / Trouba
  • Lindgren / Fox
  • Reunanen / Lundkvist

That’s a young defense for sure, but the sky is the limit for that group. And if someone falters there’s three other top prospects ready to jump in for the Blueshirts.

A bright future indeed.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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