Second Line Season Recap and Grades
The line of Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Jimmy Vesey was only together for a measly 2.09 percent of the Rangers season. But with Nash and Zibanejad both missing time due to injuries, this line did not have much time to gel during the heart of the regular season. The line performed well together, with Vesey able to “go under the wing” of Nash. All three players should be back on Broadway next season and, hopefully, will continue to get better in the coming years.
Jimmy Vesey – The Harvard graduate was the college free agent to sign before the start of the 2016-17 season. Vesey won the Hobey Baker award at the end of the 2015-16 NCAA season as the nation’s best men’s player. His season got off to a solid start, but shortly after Thanksgiving, he started to hit the “rookie wall.” His play dipped a bit, and his point production was not what the team had seen early in the season. He finished off the regular season strong and posted five points in the Rangers postseason stint. Now that Vesey has a full season of NHL hockey under his belt, his consistency should improve next season. Grade: B-
Mika Zibanejad – Coming to New York in a trade for Derick Brassard, the Rangers received a younger center with a wicked slapshot and good numbers in the faceoff circles. He also came as a bit less of a hit on the team’s salary cap. But unfortunately for Mika and the Blueshirts, he suffered an injury early in the season which kept him out from November 21st until his return in Dallas on January 17th. When Mika was in the lineup, he was a contributor on the ice. He picked up 37 points in just 56 regular season games, along with nine points in the postseason. Considering the trajectory of his season, it really is a shame that he was not healthy for more of his first season with the Rangers. Grade: B
Rick Nash – The big and brawny winger came into this season with a bit of a chip on his shoulders. Nash was coming off of a career low 36 points in the 2015-16 season, and there were plenty of questions about if he could regain his level of play from years prior. Looking at the stats alone, the Canadian power forward did not have such a great year. But if you watched him over the course of the entire campaign, Nash looked like a different player than the one we saw the previous season. He was aggressive on the forecheck, didn’t shy away from taking the body, and was usually in very good defensive position. Yes, the numbers weren’t there, but Nash had a very solid year. Grade: B