NHL Projections: New York Rangers Lineup

The New York Rangers had a fairly good regular season last year, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  Overall, not a bad season.  Where the Rangers really won, however, was this offseason.  New York was becoming a very old team, and a lot of people, myself included, thought that they would start heading in a bad direction.  This offseason, they went right out and addressed that problem in a big way.  First, they traded Derick Brassard to the Ottawa Senators and brought in 23 year old Mika Zibanejad.  Then, they signed the biggest free agent coming out of college hockey in Jimmy Vesey.  These two additions instantly made the team younger and better.  Things look good for the Rangers going into this season.  They are pretty solid across the board, and should easily make the playoffs.  Here is what I expect the Rangers lineup to look like at the start of the season.    


Chris Kreider-

Derek Stepan-

Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-

Mika Zibanejad-

Rick Nash

J.T. Miller-

Kevin Hayes-

Jesper Fast

Michael Grabner-

Oscar Lindberg-

Josh Jooris


Ryan McDonagh-

Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-

Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-

Dylan McIlrath


Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

The Rangers forward group looks pretty good heading into this season.  The top two lines are in very good shape, especially after the additions of Zibanejad and Vesey.  The bottom six is not in as good of shape, but still pretty solid.  Kevin Hayes really needs to step up this season, if he can, the third line is very good.  The fourth line has a lot of positions up for grabs.  I have Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg, and Josh Jooris making the lineup, but Tanner Glass, Nathan Gerbe, and Brandon Pirri will also compete for spots.  There will be a ton of competition in camp, and that usually is a good thing.  Overall, this forward group looks pretty good right now.

The defense also looks pretty solid in New York.  Dan Girardi had a terrible season last year, and he might not be better this year.  However, the rest of the group is good.  Ryan McDonagh is a very good defenseman, and the clear number one in New York.  The second pair is also very good.  Kevin Klein and Marc Staal are both solid veteran defensemen that rarely make mistakes.  These guys don't wow anyone with spectacular plays, but they rarely look bad and overall are really good players.  The third pair is very interesting.  Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath are both budding young stars on defense.  Skjei is a great skater and offensive minded defenseman.  McIlrath is much more defensive minded and a stay at home guy.  These two are the future of the Ranger's defense.  I love having them as a pair.  They play very different styles and I think they will play off each other very well.  Skjei moves the puck and puts up the points, while McIlrath focuses on defense and shutting guys down.  Overall, this defense core is in good shape this year.

Finally, the goaltending situation is pretty clear in New York.  Henrik Lundqvist is the number one with Antti Raanta backing him up.  The only thing that might be different this year is how much Raanta Plays.  Henrik Lundqvist is getting up in age now, and needs more rest than he has gotten in the past.  Raanta might get to see more playing time this year, just to keep Lundqvist fresh all season long.  The Rangers need Lundqvist ready for the playoffs, so Raanta will see plenty of regular season playing time.