The Forever Blueshirts team looks at the Rangers future

Welcome to the first installment of Ask a Forever Blueshirt! I am well aware of how boring playoffs can be when the Rangers aren’t involved in any shape or form so this hopefully will give you some things to think about for the next day or so.

Kevin Crupi (KC) here. I polled my fellow writers about general scenarios that the New York Rangers may or may not face this upcoming offseason and what they would do or want to happen in these hypotheticals. We have a range of answers, some duplicates as expected but all good answers none the less. Long and short we got them all! And on to our first question:

If you had to pick one player to buy out for the 2019/20 season, who would it be and why?

Smith (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Robert Ziade (RZ): By a mile, Brendan Smith. Take your pick of which positional roadblock he poses worse to: defense or offense? Any way you spin it, he’s blocking someone better or younger by him sticking around (not to mention the $4.35 for 3 more years!)

Steven Voogel/Stat Boy Steven (SBS): If I really have to, Staal. We have openings on the left where new kids can step in. And I don’t think he brings that much to the team in terms of leadership. (KC: Steve really didn’t want to buy anyone out, but I forced him to, sorry buddy.)

James Louis (JL): Smith because his numbers are not bad and would be nice cap room to run at more UFAs i.e. Panarin and EK65.

Russell Hartman (RH): Brenden Smith or Marc Staal. Both do not hold value to this team and are extremely detrimental in their own zones. Having a younger D-man replace one or both help the development of our younger players during the rebuild.

Johnluke Chaparro (JLC): Brendan Smith. I can deal with Marc Staal but Smith is just a burden out there. Deadweight with all of the young defenseman they’ve accrued. Marc Staal can still give you a solid effort.

Kevin Crupi (KC): If I had to choose someone it would probably be Staal. He’s played his heart out for years, but his time is up. Too many injuries and not fitting with the program anymore really shows that it’s time to move on from him, plus Smith has shown he’s capable of adapting (playing forward is adapting I guess?).

Anthony Scultore (AS): Brendan Smith: Better savings, less financial impact than Staal (KC: Ant even included photo references!)

In your opinion, which current D-man is due for a big turnaround or a breakout year?

Jordan Goldberg (JG): Anthony DeAngelo is in for a big year next year. He showed this year that he has the skill and competitive level to stay in the NHL, and he’s only going to get better alongside the defensive and offensive improvements the Rangers will be making.

RZ: Between Skjei and Pionk.  If I have to narrow it down, I’d say Brady is due for a bounce back…skates too well, too big a guy to keep regressing.

RH: I think Libor Hajek will be given more ice this upcoming season and will truly flash the potential the Rangers banked on in the McDonagh trade. His skating is fantastic, and the kid looked great in his audition late in the season.

JLC: Kevin Shattenkirk. Hot take here.

AS: Neal Pionk….better, minimized role on bottom pair will lead to more favorable defensive matchups and same points.

KC: Kevin Shattenkirk has had a bad start to his Rangers tenure. Injuries and inconsistency haven’t been a good look for him. He probably knows the younger guys are right on his heels, so he’ll need to start upping his play or he’s going to be a very intriguing trade target or buyout candidate next season

Excluding any pick from this year, which young forward (Lias, Chytil, Vitali, Howden, etc.) do you expect to hit at least 30 points this next season?

Kravtsov (Getty Images)

RH: Filip Chytil for sure. The kid had 23 points as a 19-year-old and the sky’s the limit for him from here. Vitali Kravtsov is also a very intriguing option here since he has already shown his high level of play in the KHL.

SBS: None of them. But Kravtsov is probably most likely to get close. He’s 2 months younger than Chytil and already further physically and mentally from what I’ve noticed.

JG: I expect both Chytil and Howden to potentially crack the 30 point mark. Chytil wasn’t far off from it this season and that’s given the decent amount of time he was benched too. I think he’s poised to put up 35-40 points next season. Howden, like a lot of rookies, had his season riddled with inconsistency. But if he can stay healthy and produce offensively with a little more consistency, then I think he shouldn’t have too much difficulty hitting that 30 point mark.

KC: Brendan Lemieux has proven he belongs on Broadway. He instantly became a fan favorite after the deadline deal that sent Hayes over to Winnipeg. Given more ice time and possibly powerplay time he can crack 30 easily, remember he was playing 4th line minutes for the Jets.

RZ: If he plays a full season, Howden (17G/33A/50P).

JLC: I think Chytil and Andersson will reach 30 points. Not yet for Howden but with the improvements in the performances of Chytil and Andersson with the possibility of new linemates, it’s easy money.

AS: Kravtsov will lead all rookie scorers on the Rangers unless Hughes or Kaako are on the team. (KC: I said excluding a pick from this draft but he did give me an answer, so I’ll let it slide)

What would you do about the goalie situation that is looming with Henrik, Alex and Igor set to battle it out for the top spot?

Shestyorkin (KHL)

KC: As much as I hate to say this, but the most likely move is that Georgiev is going to another team at the draft, and even if that doesn’t happen, he’ll be the odd man out. The rumor that Shestyorkin will return to the KHL if he was put in Hartford was put to bed by Shestyorkin himself, so maybe that’s true but it easier to not take that chance and send the guy who doesn’t have an opt-out clause in his contract back down to the AHL.

SBS: Start Georgiev in Hartford, Shestyorkin in New York. With Georgiev’s waiver exemption only lasting 17 more games, let’s see what Igor can do first. At the end of the season, we may just carry 3 goalies. But buy out Lundqvist in 2020. The cap hit for 2020-21 is $5,5m and for 2021-22 it is $1,5m. Cap relief the first season for a limited cap hit the second. This is the best way to go in the scenario of Georgiev and Shestyorkin both being ready.

JL: Unpopular opinion: If Hank is unable to be moved which he will be because of his contract you buy him out. Let the kids run the show now.

AS: Trade Georgiev at draft. Bank on Hank and Igor.

JLC: Henrik isn’t going anywhere. Ride with Georgie and put Igor in HFD where he can play every day and get acclimated to NA style hockey.

Under the assumption he doesn’t resign with Dallas, if Zucc wanted to come back on a reasonable deal next season, would you resign him or let him go somewhere else?

Zuccarello (Getty Images)

RH: He’s re-signing with Dallas, nonsense question haha but I would take him back on a smaller deal if possible.

JLC: My heart says yes, but my brain says no. I want it to happen, but I don’t think it will. I love Zuccarello but the team has moved on. YOU NEVER KNOW THOUGH.

JG: I would absolutely sign Zucc back if it was a team friendly contract. The ability of Zuccarello to make clean and creative passes and help set up on offense is remarkable. He struggled for a while this past season but eventually, he started to return to his normal self. And now he is performing well for the Stars. He is an excellent mentor and veteran presence to have around young players and rookies. Under the right contract, a reunion with Zucc would be excellent.

RZ: If Panarin signs before, and Zucc is still available…100% sign him back.

JL: Reasonable yes. To me, reasonable for Zucc is 3 years carrying an AAV of 4.5. Anything more than that I have to say no. Also, probably an unpopular opinion.

AS: Elsewhere…time to move on.

SBS: If he doesn’t re-sign in Dallas, it does not bother me where he goes. But I think coming back is not the right move. We have turned the page on McDonagh, Nash and Zuccarello, and are soon closing the book on the 2010-2016 Ranger team.

Panarin and Karlsson don’t sign with the Rangers next season, do you sign anyone else significant? If so, who?

JL: Duchene. Throw an absolute bag at him. Zib and Duchene down the middle is a very nice group. Wingers of Chytil, Kreider (pending no trade), Buch and Kaako in the top 6 would be excellent.

JG: I would consider making a run for Matt Duchene or Jeff Skinner. Both are high impact players and good at production offense. The money may be a concern since they will not want to lock themselves into a bad contract for a second tier NHL star. But I think they’d be good for the young guys and provide a much-needed scoring boost. The Rangers have already said they plan to consider spending big in free agency, and I think that is the right decision given the current state of the rebuild, especially after receiving the second overall pick in the draft.

RH: Nope! If those two don’t sign-up then just let the rebuild continue on as planned. Give the kids more minutes and prepare for another loaded draft in 2020.

RZ: Wayne Simmonds is an intriguing add with the grit he brings. Ryan Dzingel is also a fairly priced guy with decent skills, but not sure if considered “significant.” Other than that, just be happy Karlsson went somewhere else! 

SBS: Brassard and Strålman make sense on short-term deals, 2 or 3 years. They can provide experience and bridge the gap between now and when our prospects are ready to take over.

KC: I’ll roll the dice and not sign anyone this offseason. Give the kids as much playing time as possible. It’ll be clearer after the draft of course but why give older guys big contracts just to regret it 2 years later when we need that money for the kids.

JLC: Go for Jeff Skinner and Anders Lee. Supplement the incoming talent with guys who know what they’re doing. Skinner has shown his prowess when healthy and Lee can be a grit guy who can get dirty and in front of the net.

AS: Jeff Skinner, if you miss out on UFA’s go the trade route. No more buying or selling at the deadline either. Stay your ground and let the kids develop.

Oh boy! Are you still with us? I sure hope so! I know this was a little longer than you’re all used to but I’m very happy you stuck through till the very end.

I’d like to thank all the writers for participating in this and if you have any questions you’d like to have us answer or you want to answer the questions you saw here then please feel free to comment on this article, on Twitter or Facebook. You can even roast me all you want and tell me this was a dumb idea! NO WRONG ANSWERS! But again, thanks for reading and here’s to a brighter tomorrow in RangersTown.

Editor’s Note: I want to thank you all for supporting us and wish you all a Happy Easter and Passover. – Anthony

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