The New York Rangers And The Youth Movement
The New York Rangers lost some key players from last season’s Eastern Conference Championship squad. For the most part the core and the top six remains intact. The depth that helped the New York Rangers to the finals however, will have to be replenished. Those spots are open for young prospects Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Kevin Hayes, and career AHL player Chris Mueller.
UPDATE: Moments after publishing this article, the NYR have placed Chris Mueller on waivers per Rick Carpiniello of the LoHud Journal
Benoit Pouliot left for (less than) greener pastures and a five year contract in Edmonton, as does the New York Rangers most consistent line from last season (w/ Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard). The third line provided depth scoring and nightmare match ups for opposing defenses. This depth scoring was a major strength for the New York Rangers. With Benoit Pouliot walking and Brad Richards a cap casualty, Derick Brassard will move up to the first or second pivot and play more minutes but face tougher competition on a game by game basis.
The New York Rangers coaching & managerial staff have a few days to sort through the remaining roster hopefuls and the team needs.
Now the Rangers will have to find forward depth from a mixture of young inexperienced prospects and journeyman veterans like Lee Stempniak and Ryan Malone.
It’s time the New York Rangers start to use their prospects to fill holes. Youth is important to building a winning team. If you look at the top teams in the NHL you see young players making big contributions. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson were big contributors for Los Angeles last season. Scoring fourteen and twelve points in the 2014 playoffs respectively. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar held the Red Wings together when key players went down. Ben Smith and Brandon Saad were solid contributors to the Blackhawks even with all the talent they have there. Point is that graduating a young player or two each season is a winning recipe.
The New York Rangers will have some tough decisions to make.
Yesterday, the New York Rangers put defenseman Mike Koska and Steve Kampfer on waivers along with forward Matthew Lombardi and goaltender Cedric Desjardins. It is speculated that the moves were made to start to clear a contract spot to fit phenom Anthony “Duke” Duclair onto the opening night roster.
All four players have cleared waivers, so Glen Sather will need to trade a contract for basically nothing in return by Tuesday 5PM. NY should expect a low draft pick at best depending on who is moved. This is because the Rangers are at fifty contracts which is the limit for an organization. Duclair’s contract does not count, as long as he is in juniors his deal slides. If he plays a game in the NHL his contract counts against the reserve list.
With the injury to top center Derek Stepan there could be as many as four roster spots up for grabs. This also leaves the Rangers short on right handed shooters up front. Veteran Lee Stempniak is a righty but he hasn’t impressed in the preseason and though he was retained he is on the bubble.
The remaining righties are Chris Mueller who has played well at times and is a power play specialist. It also helps that he is a center. Then there’s Jesper Fast who has surprised in the preseason with three goals. He is probably the most NHL ready of the New York Rangers prospects. He played a solid defensive game in an eleven game stint at the beginning of last season. The coaching staff needs to insert at least a couple of these young right handed shooters into the lineup.
Could this injury to Derek Stepan lead New York Rangers to future long term success with young core?
The injury to Derek Stepan will hurt the New York Rangers in the short term and maybe create some more grey hair to the heads of the coaching staff. However, in the long term, the Rangers will be better off for it. They get to showcase some of their young players that through patience are now looking NHL ready.
Now that Duclair, Hayes and Fast have got this far, it appears the youth movement is alive and well on Broadway.