Post Trade Deadline: Top New York Rangers storylines to follow
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. Forever Blueshirts has laid out the top New York Rangers storylines to follow since before the season started. Back in March we posted our second half look with our last update on April 4. Let’s see where we were and where this team is going for the rest of the year.
Note: From here on out I will add to this and update some of the previous identified topics. Stay with us for the best coverage of the Blueshirts around.
Zac Jones pending NYR debut (New)
Zac Jones drove into New York and did not need to quarantine. So what’s the plan for the freshly signed NCAA Champion with UMASS.
“It’s day by day, we’ll see how he adapts -see how he adjusts,” head coach David Quinn said. “There’s not a lot of practice time, so it’s going to be hard to evaluate him in a lot of ways at the pro level, but we’re going to do the best we can, and if we feel he gives us an indication he can help us, he’ll play.”
The expectation is that he will get in some games this season. Maybe towards the end with less than 10 games to play. Regardless, this is a great experience for him to be around the team even on the taxi squad. With the NCAA season now finished he was only going to sit home and wait, so this was the best option for a multitude of reasons.
Vitali Kravtsov watch
Update 4/15/21: What a difference almost two weeks make. Kravtsov picked up his first NHL point on April 11th against the Islanders. He has yet to be officially credited with his second point as he appeared to have last touched the puck on Mika Zibanejad’s opening marker in the Blueshirts win against NJ on Monday. Currently in 6 games he has one point but that may change. More importantly is Kravtsov’s skill set and high hockey IQ have given the Rangers an X-factor. He makes them 4 lines deep and can be moved on to any line throughout the game and be effective.
Update 4/4/21: Well it finally happened. Kravtsov made his NHL debut and it was a tempered one. He worked with Alexis Lafrenière and Filip Chytil as expected. The 21 year-old rookie played 10:45 and spent most of the night getting used to the game’s speed and his team’s style of play. He made one mistake in his own zone that led to a partial breakaway stopped by Igor Shesterkin. Kravtsov almost broke the tie late on a great rebound effort while falling down. Overall, it was a good debut with a lot of promise for that young line.
Good things come to those who wait.
The Rangers are not rushing this kid into the lineup just so fans can talk about their shiny new toy. David Quinn and the entire hierarchy want Vitali Kravtsov eased into the lineup and ready to be successful. When it’s time for him to debut he will likely be skating with two other promising kids in Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafrenière.
Here’s what I think we can expect from Kravtsov – a mature and ready to contribute player. The best thing that happened was him exercising his European out clause last season. He wasn’t happy about not making the team and found out the hard way the grass isn’t always greener. This year the Rangers wanted him to play and not just struggle on a third line; so they agreed to let him play out most of the year in the KHL.
This season for Traktor he became a complete player and learned to be responsible in his own zone. His work ethic was noticed and applauded by his teammates and coaches. Now he’s here and I believe ready to make an impact.
Patience Rangers fans.
Igor Shesterkin – the workhorse
Update 4/15/21: I believe any questions about Igor Shesterkin handling a heave workload to bed. Since our last update he has started 4 of the last 5 games for the Blueshirts going 2-1-1 with a shutout. He is expected to get the nod for tonight as well.
Update 4/4/21: So if there was any concern about Igor Shesterkin as handling a heavy workload as the Rangers #1 goalie it should be put to rest. He made his 20th appearance of the season and continues to erase any doubts some naysayers had about his durability since his return from a groin strain. He stopped 27 of 29 shots last night and has a 9-8-2 record with a .925 SV%.
There is no doubt who the number one goalie of the Rangers future is anymore. Igor Shesterkin is the man in the pipes and the heir of Henrik Lundqvist’s throne. Of course, there’s genuine concern about his durability. He’s had some injuries; car accident excluded since joining the Rangers.
Last season he had an ankle issue during the regular season and then injured his groin against the Islanders in return to play exhibition. This season, he hurt his groin again so everyone is correct in questioning his durability.
David Quinn is going to help Igor answer that as we can expect him to start a lion’s share of the games for the remainder of the season.
Adam Fox is worthy of Norris Trophy consideration
Update 4/15/21: Adam Fox is now the leading scorer among defenseman in the NHL. The sophomore’s 39 points and 34 assists are tops in the league. He commands the Rangers PP with 20 points which is 2nd best in the entire league. Defensively his 27 takeaways are good for third. Simply put he has to be considered one of the two favorites along with Victor Hedman to win best defenseman this season.
Update: 4/4/21: Rangers defenseman Adam Fox assisted on both of Panarin’s goals last night. He’s now on a 10 game points streak with 18 points in that timeframe. There’s no question anymore that Fox is now a legit Norris candidate as his 29 assists are tied for first among all defenseman and his 33 points are second to only victor Hedman’s 35 who has played one more game.
One thing that can’t be overlooked this season is the continued brilliant play of defenseman Adam Fox. He’s starting to raise more eyebrows around the league as a potential Norris Trophy candidate, and has the attention of the last Ranger to win it – Brian Leetch.
“Usually you read the play a second ahead of the player because you can see everything from up above,” Brian Leetch told Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic. “I would say, with Foxy, he’s making the play as I’m seeing it from up above. It’s not like I see the play a split-second before he makes it. He’s making the same play that I can see from 10 floors up. And he’s doing it while guys are all over him and the play’s going fast, and reading the play in those seconds and making the passes.”
Adam Fox this season has been nothing short of amazing. His 29 points have him third in scoring for blue-liners and is 4 points behind Victor Hedman for first place with a game in hand. It’s been an impressive run for the 23 year-old defenseman, who has 17 assist so far in the month of March. In the Rangers game against the Flyers on March 25, his five assists tied him for the franchise record for assists and points by a defenseman. An impressive year that still has a ways to go. One that should have him considered as the NHL’s best defenseman.
The kids are going to be alright
Update 4/15/21: Since the original post in March, David Quinn has put together the “Kids Line” which features Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko, and Filip Chytil. For Kakko he has 1G and 4A in his last five games. Lafrenière has registered a point in five of his last 11 games with 3G and 2A. Filip Chytil has notched 2G and 5A for 7 points in his last 8 games. As for K’Andre Miller, he’s still logging top minutes and is now becoming more aggressive in the offensive zone. He scored a back breaking goal on 4/9 in a huge win versus the Islanders.
Kaapo Kakko, K’Andre Miller, and Alexis Lafrenière are all going to be just fine. Miller has been outstanding paired with Jacob Trouba and is only getting better. As to why he’s experiencing early success and Kakko and Lafrenière seem to struggle has a lot to do with the fact that Miller is a 21 year-old and the other two are still teenagers (Kakko just turned 20 this season).
Listen; this is a marathon and not a race. Both Kakko and Lafrenière weren’t drafted by your run of the mill dead to last teams. Both came to a squad that had some really good players on the roster so top six minutes were never going to be a given. It’s a process, so trust it.
Patience – it applies here even more.
Jack Eichel trade watch
Update: 4/15/21: As expected was not moved at the NHL Trade Deadline. He will miss the remainder of the season to repair a herniated disc in his neck.
I doubt this happens at the trade deadline but this will be the story of the offseason.
The Blueshirts are gunning for Jack Eichel this summer. It’s widely believed that whether the Sabres opt to trade him or not, they are going to explore it seriously. The Rangers are expected to put forth the best package available and it may include highly touted prospect Vitali Kravtsov and much more.
The New York Rangers and Jack Eichel have been linked to each other for quite awhile. That was only reinforced when one of hockey’s top insiders, Bob McKenzie confirmed they called about him this past offseason. At the time of McKenzie’s report it didn’t sound like anything more than a exploratory call took place but Elliotte Friedman dropped a new information that says otherwise.
In a recent episode of the Lead Off, Elliotte Friedman states that the New York Rangers actually had an offer on the table. “Last year they talked – there was an offer on the table I don’t think it included the #1 pick and I’m sure Buffalo asked,” Friedman revealed. “There was an offer on the table I understand was pretty reasonable.”
One team that many believed would be in it are the L.A. Kings. However, Friedman doesn’t think they are interested in making the move. I spoke with a league source who does not believe the Kings want to add another $10 million player to their roster and part with the big pieces in order to complete the trade
“The team with the best combination of the want and ability to do it is the Rangers, but is Buffalo going to be comfortable sending him there,” Friedman explained. “So part of the issue [for the Sabres] is going to be does anybody have the will to beat what the Rangers have to offer.”
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