Will Grit and Toughness be Enough for the New York Rangers?

Last season for the New York Rangers was very strange. Tony DeAngelo and his burner account were exposed, Artemi Panarin went MIA after having his family threatened, and Tom Wilson single handedly destroyed the franchise. Changes needed to be made and it started at the top. James Dolan fired both John Davidson and Jeff Gorton and appointed Chris Drury President and GM. One of Drury’s first moves was to replace the entire coaching staff. Out went David Quinn and in came Gerard Gallant. Gallant was chosen as the guy to lead the next great New York Rangers team. In addition to the coaching staff, Drury made a lot of moves in order to toughen up the line up.

Who was added?

After the Tom Wilson incident, it was no secret that the Rangers needed to get tougher. When your best player gets tossed around like a rag doll, and not much is done to prevent it, something needs to change. The Rangers added a few pieces in order to sure up the grit and toughness side of things. They acquired Barclay Goodrow from the Lightning and Ryan Reaves from the Golden Knights. Goodrow is an excellent defensive forward who can play both center and the wing. He won’t create a ton of offense himself but will have his numbers inflated by who he plays with. Expect Goodrow to be a player who plays a strong 200 foot game. He will forecheck hard, win battles along the boards, and play excellent defense in his own end.

The Rangers added tough guy Ryan Reaves to help protect the young star players

Ryan Reaves is more of your traditional enforcer. He is definitely more well known for what he does with the gloves dropped instead of the stick in his hands. Reaves too will not add much offensively, but will forecheck hard and cause some turnovers in the offensive zone with those forechecks. He is here to hold opponents accountable (we’ll see how much it actually works) and protect the young and budding star players the Rangers have.

KZB is No More

The third partner of the Rangers famour KZB line has found a new home in St. Louis. In a puzzling move, Chris Drury shipped top-6 winger, Pavel Buchnevich, to the St. Louis Blues. Buchnevich was finally coming into his own and had a career year last season. He was by far the Rangers most consistent forward and showed what Rangers fans were waiting for for the last few seasons. He posted his second 20 goal season and posted a career high in points with 48.

Pavel Buchnevich is a key departure for the Rangers

Drury claimed that the move was necessary because of a cap crunch. That is totally fair, except now that the Rangers have that cap space, they have not done anything with it. They went into the offseason with the proclamation of acquiring a top-6 player. Instead, they traded away a top-6 player and acquired a third-line player and a fourth line player. As it stands right now, they are banking on Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, and Vitali Kravtsov taking major steps forward. Gallant does not believe that young players of that caliber should play in the bottom 6. However, it will be very difficult to replace Chris Kreider in the top 6.

Will the grit and toughness be enough?

The NHL is famously behind in analytics compared to the rest of the major sports leagues in North America. Many of the Twitter analytic gurus have been bashing the New York Rangers with their moves of Goodrow and Reaves. However, the reality is that the rest of the league still values players like Reaves so they still have a place in helping a team win. Will it be enough to catapult the Rangers back into the playoffs? According to Rangers Twitter, the team is a dumpster fire and took a major step backwards. However, they already have the best defenseman in the NHL, a top 10 player in Panarin, and 3 of the top young players in the NHL. There will be some growing pains this season but this team definitely has the talent to return to the playoffs and compete for a Stanley Cup over the next few seasons.

-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)

(Featured Image credit to Forever Blueshirts)

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