A lack of depth led to the New York Rangers falling short of the playoffs this spring. In the past, while many teams in hockey seem to be getting smarter and smarter, the Rangers front office continued to baffle hockey minds around the country. Rather than brew draft picks into NHL stars, General Manager Glen Sather repeatedly signed free agents for more money than they were worth. The goals of Marian Gaborik and the fights of Derek Boogaard will put fans in the seats but they will not win hockey games by themselves. Another expensive offseason later, the Rangers begin another tenuous 82 game road to the playoffs, or the golf course.

gaborik skate

Offense: B+ Marian Gaborik is the Rangers offense. Last year, games were won and lost on his performances. However, Gaborik is used to being a one man show. In Minnesota he was head and shoulders above any of his teammates as far as talent and point production. This offseason, in an attempt to bring in some skill to play with the Slovak superstar, Sather made another risky signing by signing Alexander Frolov for a one year, 3 million dollar contract. Once a 70+ point scorer, Frolov will hope to reignite the flame in his game playing alongside Gaborik. Captain Brandon Dubinsky and fan favorite Ryan Callahan will line up as wingers on the second line, providing excellent two way play and secondary scoring. The center position is where the greatest question mark lies. Youngsters Erik Christensen and Artem Anisimov will enter the season as the first and second line pivots, respectively. Christensen has shown promise, and if he can find a way to click with the two speedy Eastern Europeans then he should be poised for a career year, and then some. Rookie center Derek Stephan is coming off a big year in which he captained the United States team to a Gold Medal in the World Junior Championship this past January. Stephan will play on the third line between agitator Sean Avery and last minute signing, former Stanley Cup Champion Ruslan Fedotenko.

Defense: A- Glen Sather made one guaranteed smart move this offseason by signing defenseman Marc Staal to a five year contract. The middle brother of the sublimely talented Staal family, Marc was the Rangers best defenseman last season and will continue to shut down the best offensive threats in the East. Staal will be paired with all around solid shut down defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi was fantastic at blocking shots on the Rangers penalty kill last season, which was best in the Atlantic division. Sophomore Michael Del Zotto will look to improve on a wonderful rookie season. He will see plenty of time on the power play and has the ability to create even strength offense from the back end. Fellow sophomore Matt Gilroy can improve only on his consistency after giving a strong performance at the beginning of the regular season last year. Michael Rozsival rounds out the top six, with prospect Michael Sauer playing with veteran Steve Eminger as the Rangers final pairing.

Goaltending: A While the Rangers surrendered only 218 goals during the regular season last year, good for fourth best, much of it has to be attributed to goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish national netminder got little help last season yet put up very respectable numbers. “King” Henrik will no doubt continue his dominant play in net and hopefully get left out to dry less often. Glenn Sather Made another good move by signing veteran goalie Martin Biron to back up Lundqvist. When Henrik does get tired, Biron will provide solid net minding between the pipes, and if the Rangers defense can keep up and the offense can provide a cushion, the Blueshirts need not skip a beat this season.

Key Acquisitions: Alexander Frolov, Derek Stephan, Martin Biron, Ruslan Fedotenko, Michael Sauer, Derek Boogaard Key Losses: None

Andrew smith
Sports Pundit member

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