2017-18 New York Rangers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I love hockey - I'm Canadian, so it's required. I watch a lot of it. The New York Rangers are good at hockey and more or less have been for years now. Yet, in one of those strange quirks of sports fandom that you can only understand if you are a fan yourself, I just don't care about the Rangers. Never have. I don't hate them. I don't like them. I guess I respect them. Mostly, though, they exist in a strange purgatory for me - I know they exist, but I don't pay any real attention to their existence.
Part of what makes that possible is that they have made it possible to overlook them without too many issues. They made the Stanley Cup finals in 2014 but were hopelessly outmatched by the Kings. And though they have made the playoffs every year but one since the lockout in 2005 they always seem to do a bit of damage and then go away - usually at or before the time their record would suggest they should. I guess I'd put it this way - the New York Rangers are my Taylor Swift. I don't love Taylor Swift's music. I don't hate it. I just don't care about it, and it has no impact on my life.
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New York Rangers Offseason Moves
I might be apathetic towards the team, but they certainly weren't apathetic towards improvement this offseason. Two of the four assistant captains last year were Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi. Both are gone. Girardi was halfway through a six-year deal when the Rangers bought him out this summer. Stepan's loss is more significant. He was the No. 1 center for the team, but in a bit of a blockbuster he was dealt to Arizona along with Antti Raanta, the excellent backup goalie they were going to lose in the expansion draft. In exchange they got defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, a 21-year-old who was a first-round pick in 2014 and who is quite promising despite being on his third team already. He looks to be a regular player this year. They also got the seventh overall pick in the draft, which they used to take Swedish center Lias Andersson, who has a good chance to make the team as the third center this year. That role opened up when Stepan was dealt. Mika Zibanejad, who signed a fat new contract this offseason, will move up to the top line, and Kevin Hayes climbs up from the third line to the second. A young rookie is always a risk, especially one who has only played in Europe, so they may have to get more creative up the middle.
DeAngelo coming in and Dan Girardi aren't the only moves on defense, or even the biggest. The team landed Kevin Shattenkirk, arguably the top free agent in this lackluster class, on a four-year deal. Both the length of the contract and the amount were less than expected because Shattenkirk grew up just outside of New York as a Rangers fan and was keen to come home. He's an offensive force, and strong on the power play, and will likely replace Girardi on the top pairing alongside captain Ryan McDonagh.
With Raanta gone, the team needed a backup for Henrik Lundqvist, who is 36
now so can't be relied upon to be a brick wall forever. They had Edmonton's
Cam Talbot backing up before Raanta, so they have been spoiled at the
position. They had to go outside this time, though, and brought in Ondrej
Pavelec from Winnipeg on a cheap one-year deal. All I'll say about that
decision is that I really hope for their sake that Lundqvist doesn't get
hurt. Going from Raanta to Pavelec is like trading in your Audi for a
New York Rangers NHL Outlook
The Pavelec move is lousy, but aside from that they had a pretty solid offseason. They got younger, spent their money reasonably well, and didn't mess too much with a formula that won them 48 games last year. I don't know that they got any better this offseason, but they made the sound kinds of changes that teams need to do to remain relevant. They were among the better teams in the East last year, and were a tough matchup for any team in the playoffs. The same is true again this year.
New York Rangers Schedule
The team plays eight of their final 11 games of the season at home, and two of those three road games are at New Jersey and Detroit, which are hardly going to be the best teams in the league this year. If the team finds themselves in any kind of a fight for position late in the season then this scheduling is an absolute gift.
New York Rangers NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has the Rangers at +1800 to win the Stanley Cup, which ties them with the Wild as the 10th choice to win it all. That seems fair. BetOnline has them as the fourth choice to win the Eastern Conference at +800, behind favored Pittsburgh as well as Tampa Bay and Washington. They are the third choice to win the Metropolitan Division at +500, again behind Pittsburgh and Washington. The season win total is set at 44.5, down from 48 wins last year.
2017-18 New York Rangers Predictions
The season win total seems right on here. I think the team had a solid offseason, but they are likely to take a step back in the short term. Raanta won 16 games last year, and Pavelec just isn't doing that. And the offense will have to adjust after all the changes. Short-term pain for, hopefully, long-term gain. They will still definitely be a playoff team, and a tough matchup, but they won't do enough to make me care about them.
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