As the offseason continues on, the Rangers plan going forward seems to be getting clearer. The team just hired David Quinn’s assistant coaches, and RFA’s are starting to reach contract agreements to rejoin the team. As all of this is occurring, the Rangers remain without a captain but, with that said, a new leader will likely be in place relatively soon. As Quinn continues to travel and meet his players, things will begin to pick up on the captaincy speculation. There are several qualified players on the team who haveq a good chance of getting that “C” sewn on their jersey. Let’s take a look.
Zuccarello seems like one of the more obvious choices to become the new captain. What makes this option interesting, though, is that no one really knows how much longer Zuccarello will be a part of the organization. There were trade rumors surrounding him at the trade deadline, around the draft, and they will likely pop up again at the next trade deadline (if he hasn’t already been traded). The Rangers seem to enjoy trading away their captains, but I don’t see that happening. Since there is a significant chance Zuccarello will be gone in the near future, I don’t believe the Rangers would go ahead and make him their next captain.
That being said, Zuccarello does have all of the necessary qualities. During his time in New York thus far, he has been a solid and consistent producer. He has shown his willingness to lead the team, whether wearing an “A” or not. He has the gritty, never-quit attitude that solidifies him as good choice for the position, should he be a Blueshirt for a while longer.
One of the more popular candidates to obtain the captaincy, Kreider certainly has what it takes to hold the position. His intensity and relentless playing style will be a great tool for the younger kids to learn from as they develop. Because of this, it is very likely he could be given the leadership role to help teach them. Kreider has been a decently consistent player for the Blueshirts and holds seniority on the team. David Quinn also knows Kreider from the good ole’ days when the two were part of an intense NCAA rivalry.
Kreider has been the center of some controversies during his tenure in New York, which could prove to be an obstacle for him. Controversies like the one stemming from the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, during which people accused Kreider of being dirty and intentionally injuring Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. I personally do not believe this will be of much impact going forward in regards to his chances of getting the captaincy.
Staal is probably the least likely candidates to hold the position. Even though he holds the most seniority on the team along with Lundqvist, he is not the kind of impact player that a captain needs to be. He has shown a significant amount of inconsistency over the last few years, all while aging on an inflated contract. Staal is a great veteran presence that can play with guys like Neal Pionk, but shouldn’t neccessarily wear the “C”.
Although it doesn’t seem to make the most sense, I believe Shattenkirk may have the best chance to be given the position. Even though he sat out most of last year with a meniscus tear, he has made known his passion for New York Rangers hockey. He is an intense player on the ice and greatly impacts the play of his team when healthy. He wore an “A” in St. Louis, but is always a leader regardless of if he is wearing the letters or not.
In addition to his leadership qualities, he has the closest relationship to David Quinn out of anyone on the team. Shattenkirk played for Quinn at BU, on the U.S. Developmental Team, and in the AHL. They know each other very well and consider each other great friends. In fact, they are so close that at Shattenkirk’s wedding last week, the groomsmen consisted of several Rangers players…and Coach Quinn. Yes, Shattenkirk’s coach, who he hasn’t played under in years, was a groomsman at his wedding. Should be interesting to see how that storyline plays out.
Overall, I think it could be a toss-up. The majority of the players on this list have good chances to be made the next captain of the New York Rangers. But, much of it depends on the new relationships these players form with Coach Quinn and his first impressions of them. Below is my prediction of how the Blueshirts leadership team may round out.
|Alternate Captains||Mats Zuccarello||Marc Staal||Chris Krieder/Jesper Fast|