2018 New York Rangers Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Before this past season, the Rangers were a model of consistency. They had made the playoffs seven years in a row and in 11 of 12 years. And they had won at least one playoff series in five of the last six years, going all the way to the finals in 2014. But things did not go well last year, and they fell out of the hunt early, ultimately finishing last in the Metropolitan and 20 points behind the final slot. It was ugly. Now we have to see if it is fatal or temporary - if the team has to fully rebuild or just regroup. After missing the playoffs for the first time in a while in 1993, they came back and won the Cup the next year. But when they missed again in 1998, it was seven seasons before they were back again. They have gone both ways in situations like this, and our job is to figure out their path forward now.
New York Rangers Offseason Moves
The team didn't like missing the playoffs for the first time in most of a decade, so coach Alain Vigneault was fired as soon as the season ended. To replace him they went outside the NHL, bringing in David Quinn, who had led Boston University to great collegiate success over the last five seasons. Quinn has been a head coach in the AHL, and was an assistant in Colorado for one season, so the league isn't new to him. He is very well suited to working with young players, which will be an asset here on a team that is young and could get younger.
On the free agent front, the team was notably quiet. They added just two free agents on minimum, with the more interesting being goalie Dustin Tokarski, who the Habs had high hopes for a few years ago and who was brought in for goaltending depth. And no one who left moves the needle even a little bit.
They did do a lot of work on the contract front, signing Vladislav Namestnikov for two more years, Jimmy Vesey and Ryan Spooner for the same term, and Kevin Hayes for just one. And the final signing of note would make a good party trip. If you asked someone to name the most obscure guy to make over $30 million in the NHL, no one would come up with defenseman Brady Skjei. Even his parents have only sort of heard of him. But he is a pleasingly anonymous defenseman - in a good way. You don't notice him because he just does his job, and that earned him $31.5 million over six years.
The team had three first-round picks - their own at No. 9, plus
Pittsburgh's at 22 and Tampa's at 28. They picked Vitali Kravtsov first.
The forward played in the KHL last year and intends to again. Forward
K'Andre Miller and defenseman Nils Lundkvist will take a while as well.
New York Rangers NHL Outlook
This is already a young team, and they are going to get younger, as possibly five rookies are expected to be on the roster. Two are particularly important. LIas Andersson was the seventh overall pick in 2017, and Filip Chytil was 22nd that same year. Both are centers, and the team is high on both. The hope is that they have found their top two centers for the future. Kevin Hayes, a top two center now, was brought back for one year and $5.18 million instead of a longer term largely because the team wants to see what these guys have. If they are ready and look good then Hayes will likely be dealt at the deadline. In total there could be as many as 13 guys 25 or younger. Quinn could be the ideal coach for the squad - as long as management is patient with him knowing that winning now isn't likely.
To exceed the meager expectations, the team needs to have a long list of guys who underachieved last year find their mojo this year. Henrik Lundqvist is the most obvious, as the all-World goalie looked very mortal last season. He is 36, but that isn't necessarily ancient for goalies. Others who disappointed include Mika Zibanejad, Hayes, Chris Kreider, Namestnikov, Spooner, Vesey - and I could go on. Last year's big free agent acquisition, Kevin Shattenkirk, also struggled with injuries last year and needs to have an impact now. The ceiling isn't high for this team, but it could be a lot higher if guys get rolling. Scoring has to come from somewhere. Last year Mats Zuccarello led the team with just 53 points. No player had fewer points to best their squad.
New York Rangers Schedule
The Rangers must have paid off the schedule makers. They have just three road trips of four games and none longer. And one of those three trips doesn't go further west than Winnipeg, so it will be very manageable. Some teams have three six-game trips, so this is a luxury.
New York Rangers NHL Futures Odds
The good news is that the oddsmakers don't think that this is close to the worst team in the league. There are eight teams with longer odds to win the Cup at Bovada - more than a quarter of the league. The bad news, though, is that at +8500 they are so far from the true contenders that they may as well be playing a different sport. The Rangers had 77 points last year, and oddsmakers expect no improvement - the season point total is set is at 75.5.
2018-19 New York Rangers Predictions
It's hard to be optimistic. And frankly I don't want to be optimistic in the short term. This team needs to keep getting young, shedding dead weight, and figuring out what their future looks like. The presence of Lundqvist, a healthy Shattenkirk, and turnarounds from a couple of guys, make it hard to take the "under" on the total, but I sure am not rushing into the "over", either. This is one of those teams that will be so anonymous this year that you could even forget that they exist.
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