Tempering Expectations and Looking to the Future for the Rangers
In February of 2018 the management group of the New York Rangers took a look at their team and realized that something needed to change. This was not a group that was a piece or two away from winning the Stanley Cup. They were flawed, they had a lot of holes and they were barely hanging in the playoff race. It was time to rebuild the New York Rangers.
Just about a season and a half later and the Rangers have completely done a 180. They have one of the top five groups of prospects in the NHL, including A+ prospects in Vitali Kravtsov and Adam Fox. They haven’t even added potential superstar Kaapo Kakko yet.
Mika Zibanejad has proved he is a star in this league and Pavel Buchnevich is coming out of his shell. Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson seem like a nice part of the new core of players and Libor Hajek was beginning to flash his potential before his injury. Point being, this is a time of great hope and optimism for the New York Rangers but one thing is very important here: Tempering expectations will be key for the 2019-2020 season.
With the influx of prospects joining the team next season, remember that these are kids who are just coming into their own. Vitali Kravtsov, Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, and possibly others will be joining the core of this team opening night. Kravtsov is 19 years old, Kakko is 18 years old and Fox is 21. While Fox is used to North American ice and has wanted to be a Ranger his entire life, we need to picture what this will be like for Kravtsov and Kakko. Both players are leaving their countries and homes to move across the world to play hockey under the bright lights of New York City. Where were you when you were 18?
Think about what you were going through and what the next step in your life was. These kids will need time to adjust and it’s important to remember that they are kids. No matter the potential they have or the ceiling they can reach, they may start off year one slow and it may not click for them for half a season or more.
This won’t be the easiest adjustment for them and the pressure on these kids will be immense. This a time when us as fans cannot throw them under the bus. The same goes for Filip Chytil, who just played a full season as a 19-year-old and had 23 points, and Lias Andersson who will just be hitting their 20’s as well. These are kids who are still finding their way and it’s going to take some time for them to feel fully comfortable and hit their big ceilings.
With that being said, next year is going to be another rebuilding year. We all want the playoffs again, we all want to see the team compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out but it isn’t the time yet.
Expect another season of growth and another season of establishing identity but ultimately falling short of the playoffs. And that’s ok. It’s 100% ok. The biggest mistake the Rangers can make now is to think they are further along than they are. Even with the possible addition of Artemi Panarin as well, that’s a lot of change for this club and the defense still has way too many holes to fill before we can talk playoffs again but that doesn’t mean next season won’t be fun.
While tempering expectations is key for the 2019-2020 season, the Rangers will be getting an influx of talent like we haven’t seen in a long time and to see the new players gel together and grow together will be something special.
Kravtsov and Kakko will be foundational players moving forward. Fox is one of the top defensive prospects in the world. Chytil and Andersson will want to show more and prove they belong on this team. There could be other prospects that impress and force David Quinn’s hand as well. We haven’t seen an influx of talent like this come to the Rangers in a long time and it is going to be damn fun watch.
We may not see the playoffs for a year or maybe two, but that means more high picks and more talent making their way to New York. With a good coaching staff in place, the talent heading to this team and a drive to get back to contender status this team is heading in the right direction so please, at least for 2019-2020 know that this team is still building and don’t throw our guys under the bus. Let the kids play and let’s get ready to see what the future looks like for the New York Rangers.