The New Leadership Group Under Rangers Head Coach David Quinn
We all know about the coaching change, what he is like and who can benefit from playing under David Quinn. But what about the players that will be designated and looked to as leaders under the new skipper. Obviously some of these players could have been considered as leaders last season for the New York Rangers, but their involvement will be even more crucial this upcoming season.
“The King” has seen it all with this franchise. He still stands, going on year number 13, as the Rangers most valued player.
His experience is unparalleled compared to the much younger defensive core in front of him. That experience will be vital in teaching guys like Brady Skjei, John Gilmour and even Tony DeAngelo how to develop a more comprehensive two-way game. These three players are incredible skaters and their offensive awareness for defensemen has shown during their young careers.
Molding the defensive part of their game may come down to the two members of the next section of leaders but, Lundqvist will certainly have a part in commanding his first line of defense into dependable defensemen. Lundqvist has a say because of his preference in whether he wants opposing teams forced to the outside or keeping the puck toward the middle of the ice and letting him see the puck at all times.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc Staal
Going off of Lundqvist’s experience, these two defensemen make sense to be in a leadership role under Quinn. Shattenkirk is the most logical choice for leadership, as he has spent time under Quinn previously at Boston College. Of course, Shattenkirk is an offensive defenseman, and his expertise being shown throughout his career on the powerplay and even strength. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see his talents last season in full, but he now has a full offseason of planning with his (former) new head coach and teammates.
For implementing a tone of defense first, high percentage clears and overall efficiency on the blueline against the rush, Marc Staal can be a leader.
Yes, Staal is getting slower and slower and it seems to be that he is a liability at times, but he is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career.
A positive plus/minus and the highest PDO (shooting percentage + goalie save percentage) of his career of 102.8, Staal showed precedent on a battered blue line. His offensive prowess has been significantly slashed in comparison to his first couple of years with the Rangers, but these latter years can still be as beneficial. Focusing on a defensive approach and keeping the balance of all of the offensive defensemen.
Alongside his previous defensive partner from last season in Neal Pionk, Staal can be a leader to him exclusively. Who better to follow than the man defending to your left and that man being an established veteran, that has spent his entire career in front of the same goaltender.
Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello
These two, in my opinion have the best chance of donning the “C” on their chest come October. That obviously means that they will be a part of the leadership group for the 12 forwards.
Kreider would have been a serious contender to becoming the team’s leading scorer without falling to a devastating, and possibly life threatening, injury last season. Kreider’s absence was felt on the team considerably, with the Rangers going 7-17 during his 24 game stint on the DL. He has shown some authority talking to the media as well, being a leader to a young team with a very questionable future.
Zuccarello is the fan favorite for the “C”. And if he isn’t the team favorite for the captaincy, he is a favorite to be traded at the upcoming draft. What happens in the next few weeks will be interesting and impactful as far as the Rangers future plans. This rebuild can be a long one or a short one and it all depends on timing. If the Rangers move on from Zuccarello, who can step up and join Zibanejad and Hayes as the leading scorers of the team. Buchnevich, Spooner or even Fast can fill Zucc’s role as a scorer, but nevertheless all three don’t equal Zuccarello’s tenacity. The three first-round picks (9,26,28) will have a crucial role in the coming years. Andersson and Chytil still need time to learn on the highest level of hockey, and learning from a seasoned vet like Zuccarello can be beneficial.