There are some teams that just don't work for you. They have success and plenty of reasons to like them, but for some reason you just can't get excited about them. It could be style of play, personnel, philosophy - pretty much anything. The team just doesn't fit your vision of what you want a team to be.
For me, that team is the New York Rangers. They won the Presidents' Trophy last year and came a round short of the Stanley Cup Finals. The year before they lost in the Cup Finals to the Kings. The success is unquestioned, yet I can't get excited about the team, and I never find it particularly hard to bet against them when the situation calls for it. I just don't respect them that much - at least not compared to what the court of public opinion tells me I should think of them. Is that going to change this year? We'll look closer, but at the risk of spoiling the surprise, my answer is "no".
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New York Rangers Offseason Moves
There was a changing off the guard in the front office. After 15 years as GM, Glen Sather stepped solely into the role of President this summer. Former assistant GM Jeff Gorton is now the man in charge. His first summer featured more tinkering than dramatic moves.
The biggest departure is Martin St. Louis, the ageless wonder who finally retired this offseason. He will be missed both for his offseason - he still tallied 52 points last year - and his leadership. Also significant is the departure of backup goalie Cam Talbot, who is now in Edmonton as the presumed starter. He was excellent in relief for Henrik Lundqvist, and the return they got for him was far from excellent. Winger Carl Hagelin and defender Matt Hunwick also got their exit papers.
To fill the holes there was a repetitive theme - cheap. Emerson Etem, Viktor Stalberg and Jarret Stoll will all look to be bottom six forwards, Rapha Diaz
is a new depth defenseman, and Antti Raanta is the likely new backup to Lundqvist. Of the whole group, Stalberg is the highest paid - at just $1.1.
million. You often get what you pay for - especially when guys aren't young, so it's hard to argue that the team got better this offseason.
New York Rangers NHL Outlook
I have concerns about the offense for this team. Rick Nash had an exceptional year last year, but it was somewhat unexpected, and I don't trust him to replicate it. The pressure he faces from the media should also intensify as, yet again, he was a disappointment in the playoffs. They aren't going to be a bad offense, but they feel like they overachieved offensively last year, and they aren't quite as talented this time around.
Defense is easier to trust. Their top three have been excellent, and Keith Yandle will be here for a full year after joining them at the deadline last year. He has a lot to prove. There isn't a defensive unit in the East any better than this one. There isn't a goalie outside of Montreal any better than Lundqvist, either. He makes me uneasy, too, though. He's getting older, and injuries were a concern last year. The backup situation is a negative, and overall it seems reasonable to expect slightly less than the stellar goaltending they have grown used to in New York.
New York Rangers Schedule
It's an odd schedule for the Rangers this year. The good news is that they don't have a single trip longer than three games all year. That's something you just don't see very often - especially for a team situated on one of the coasts. The bad news, though, is that they also don't have a homestand longer than three games, either. It's a choppy schedule.
New York Rangers NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
The Rangers are tied with the Penguins as the fifth choice to win the Stanley Cup at +1200. They are the second choice behind only Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference at +400 and the favorites to win the Metropolitan Division at +240.
2015-16 New York Rangers Predictions
Good team? Yes. Playoff team? Absolutely. Serious contender? I just don't see it. Their offense is going to be a relative disappointment, the defense will be solid, and goaltending will be decent. They don't have major flaws, but nor do they have any areas in which they are truly exceptional. They played four series in the playoffs two years ago and three last year. I wouldn't be surprised to see that downward trend continue with a second-round elimination this year.
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