Rangers projected lineup has talent and cap space
The New York Rangers will enter training camp with a young, talented, and inexpensive lineup. While much remains to be seen, my initial projection is based on certain players talent, maturity, and fit in the lineup.
2018-19 Projected Lineup
These Young Guys Win Out
Training camp is going to have a ton of young players vying for a spot in this lineup. Right off the bat, Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil are penned in based off their strong auditions last season. So let’s focus on the two young players I feel will crack the lineup.
Brett Howden is a player that Jeff Gorton really wanted in the Ryan McDonagh deal. Described as hard nosed with puck skill, Howden looks like a perfect fit to center the fourth line. Michael Lundqvist has the offensive skills to play but the Rangers have too many wingers in order for him to bump one of them out of the lineup. Regardless, keep an eye on him, especially in the event of a trade.
On defense, I’m giving a spot to Brendan Smith. The Rangers are going to need NHL experience on the blue-line this season with so many young forwards. However, Libor Hajek is the man to watch and could supplant Tony DeAngelo in camp. Ultimately in the end, the Rangers could have them both and maybe even Sean Day or Ryan Lindgren in the lineup by season’s end.
The Rangers should be entering the season with over $4 million in cap space. That doesn’t mean much now, but entering next season’s UFA frenzy with names like Tyler Seguin and Artemi Panarin available it will mean a lot.
Jeff Gorton could have at least 15 million or more in cap space next season to land a big prize. Mats Zuccarello’s $4.5M and likely, Kevin Hayes’ $5.175M will be off the books and the Rangers will move some other big salaries before next July in order to improve the lineup for the the next 5-7 years.