August 4, 2015

The “prime” reason why the Rangers are still the best in the East

McDonagh wins it in OT! (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Mats Zuccarello and team celebrate (Getty Images)

Mats Zuccarello and team celebrate (Getty Images)

Phil Kessel is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Columbus Blue Jackets added young star Brandon Saad and the Washington Capitals added more weapons in T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. Is this the end of the Rangers days as one of the best in the East?

If you talk to some in the fanbase they will even highlight how Buffalo added Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and drafted Jack Eichel to threaten the Rangers place in the upper echelon of the East. What they continually disregard is that each and everyone of those teams lost something in order to acquire those players. In Washington’s case they couldn’t afford to keep offensive defenseman Mike Green. As for Pittsburgh they continue to hurt themselves defensively in the name of offense. The Jackets gave up some real pieces in order to add one in Saad. As for Buffalo? I have socks that are older than Kane, O’Reilly and most certainly Eichel.

The Rangers are still one of the Beasts of the East. Even without Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin, the Rangers continue to be on the up and their window to win is still wide open. Matter of fact, it will continue to stay open as long as 33 year old Henrik Lundqvist is still stopping pucks the way he does.

I think it is always important to stop and look at what you have first before looking at the “Jones'”. When it comes to sports and athletes, I believe firmly in prime years. Those are the years where an athlete hits his peak and performs at a much higher level for several years before declining. In hockey those years are generally 27-33.

For more, read this great article by the CBC from 2014.

Up front the Rangers have size and speed. Better yet, they have youth on their side. The list below shows that this upcoming season’s group of forwards come in at an average of 26 years of age.

NYR FWDS (FTHN)

NYR FWDS (FTHN)

On defense, the Rangers defense is how I like them, not too young and not too old. The Blueshirts blue-line comes in at an average of 30 years of age (28.66 without Dan Boyle‘s 39 years). They are a little on the small size for my taste but that comes only at the expense of being excellent puck moving defenseman which is a more than acceptable trade off.

NYR DEF (FTHN)

NYR DEF (FTHN)

Once again, fans only see what others are doing and for the most part it’s the big names that make the splashes. That doesn’t alway translate into success and all the teams I mentioned above will have to work out lines and find chemistry as well.

This Rangers team is in essence the same group that has been together and dominating the East for years. Better yet, they will have more youthful players entering their prime years. On defense, Ryan McDonagh is poised to challenge for the Norris Trophy at 26 and will join Keith Yandle and Marc Staal who are in the middle of their prime years.

At forward, newly re-signed Derek Stepan is continuing to improve at the tender age of 25 and will join Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello who are about to really hit their strides at 27. Chris Kreider is also progressing and is still several years away from reaching his prime.

My point is simple, for all the moves other teams have made this summer, I still believe the Rangers are the ones they are chasing. It is way too early to start making predictions but I am very confident that the 2015-2016 Rangers are still one of the best the East has to offer.

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