The New York Rangers made some key additions in preparation for the 2021-22 season. Chris Drury wanted to make some changes to the way the team plays and he accomplished that over the summer.
It started with the hiring of Gerard Gallant who must now take these tools and properly balance the roster. At his disposal is back-to-back Cup winner Barclay Goodrow, and enforcer Ryan Reaves. Both players are penned into the lineup and will have an impact that opponents will feel.
Then there’s Sammy Blais who was part of the Pavel Buchnevich cap move. He has great upside, but fans should understand he isn’t replacing Buchnevich’s offense.
Finally on defense, there’s physical and steady veteran Patrik Nemeth who was brought in to partner with Rangers prized prospect, Nils Lundkvist. The 21 year-old will have a lot of eyes on him, and could be the biggest addition to the team after finally signing his ELC this summer.
Check out the video below before we dive in a little further into each player.
Barclay Goodrow (C/W)
Adding Goodrow not only strengthened the team’s bottom six, it diversified the way they will play. The additions of Sammy Blais and Ryan Reaves further speak to that. When the top two lines jump over the boards, other teams will scurry to get their defensive specialists out there. When the opposition sends out their top lines, they are likely to be met with a lot more crash and bang than they are used to playing the Blueshirts. This revamped roster fits perfectly with what Gerard Gallant likes to do.
Barclay Goodrow is the type of glue guy the Rangers said they wanted to go after. He’s a big; strong player at 6-2, 215 lbs. He can skate and produce on the bottom six with 20 points in 55 games this past season. He is also considered one of the best penalty killers in the game and is solid in the face-off circle.
“I’m an in-your-face type of player. I play hard, I’m more of a straight line player and I like to be counted on in defensive situations, like the PK or shutting down a top line,” Goodrow explained of his play. “I like to stick up for my teammates whenever need be. Just be a guy who can go up and down the lineup playing wing or center. Wherever the team needs me.”
Expectations: Will play a key role on the third line, most likely at wing with Filip Chytil at center. If Chytil struggles in the face-off circle, Goodrow could take those draws.
Ryan Reaves (W)
Reaves logged just one goal and four assists while racking up 27 penalty minutes in 37 games during the 2020-21 regular season. In the playoffs, he had no goals and one assist in 12 games, missing two games after getting suspended for pulling out hair from the Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan Graves.
In 686 career NHL games for the St. Louis Blues (2010-11 to 2016-17), Pittsburgh Penguins (2017-18) and Vegas (2017-18 to 2020-21), Reaves has 49 goals, 52 assists and 937 penalty minutes.
The Rangers extended the 6-2, 225 lbs enforcer soon after the trade with an additional year at $1.75 million. He’s a player the organization has been interested in for years and made sure to acquire him this summer.
Expectations: He is exactly what he called himself, “the solution to your Tom Wilson problem.” Reaves should line up on the team’s 4th line on most nights. Depending on the opponent, he could sit for a more skilled option.
Sammy Blais (W)
Fans are still unhappy about the Buchnevich trade, and it is understandble.
In exchange, the Rangers got more bottom six grit in Sammy Blais (pronounced Blay). The 6-2, 205 lbs winger is a straight up and down physical player who can chip in offensively. This past season he recorded 15 points in 36 games. Over the last two seasons, he’s thrown 258 hits in 76 games played. A pure hard-nosed physical presence.
The real key here for the Rangers is his salary at just $1.5 million. The 25 year-old will be an RFA with arbitration rights in the summer of 2022.
Expectations: High energy guy that will throw the body around on the 4th line. Can chip in offensively but needs to be more consistent.
Patrick Nemeth (LD)
Last season, the Avalanche picked up the rugged defenseman from the Detroit Red Wings and he played very well. At 6-3 and 228 lbs, he is a physical presence that will play quality third pair minutes while helping fellow Swede, Nils Lundkvist acclimate to North America and the NHL.
The 29 year-old rearguard scored 10 points in 52 games while averaging 18:01 per night. For his career, he’s been regarded as a stay-at-home type. Nemeth’s zone starts lean heavily towards the defensive side at 66.1%.
Expectations: Rock-solid defenseman who will likely go unnoticed on most nights. That’s not a bad thing in the NHL, as it likely means he’s getting his job done and keeping scoring chances low.
Nils Lundkvist (RD)
The New York Rangers signed the 2018 first round draft pick (28th overall) on June 3rd. They allowed him to hone his game in the SHL in hopes that he will be ready to make the jump to the NHL this season.
“I am going to the best I can to improve (at camp) and show everyone the player I am,” Lundkvist said after Day 2 of Development Camp. “I feel like I’ve had a great couple of years back home in Sweden. It feels like I’m prepared for this and hopefully I can do my best. It’s not me that is going to decide if I’m ready.”
This past season with Lulea in the SHL, Nils Lundkvist was recognized as the SHL’s best Swedish born defenseman by winning the Salming Trophy. He registered 32 points on the strength of 14 goals in 52 games this season. Those goals were the most from any defenseman 21 years or younger in SHL history.
Expectations: Lundkvist is likely penciled in as the 3RD to start the season. Lack of minutes will make it hard for him to threaten for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. However, if he thrives on the PP this season it could mean a solid 20-30 point freshman campaign.
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