Offense. That was the one thing the New York Rangers were looking to add this offseason. It was an easy decision to make, after all. The Rangers have a defense that is quietly strong and steady every night. They also have one of the best goaltenders in the league.
Unlike many other teams in the league, when they Rangers want someone, they get them. During the trade deadline and this offseason, the Rangers made sure the world knew they wanted Rick Nash in a blue sweater. They got him.
With their needs and wants now filled, the Blueshirts looked primed to be a Stanley Cup contender.
Last Year: Only three teams in the NHL had 51 wins in 2012 and the New York Rangers were one of them. With Marian Gaborik’s return to 40-goal form, a wonderful season from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and one of the best young defenses in the sport, the Rangers maintained their reign on top of the Eastern Conference for the entire season. Their slip up in the Eastern Conference finals against the Devils was more inexperience than inadequacy. Simply put, every eventual championship team stumbles before they rise to the top. Make no mistake; last year was the Rangers stumble. They are now ready to win.
With Nash in their lineup and a sour loss in the playoffs under their collective belts, the team has a hunger and desire they need in order to be serious contenders.
Question Marks: The bottom two lines have a ton of spunk with Arron Asham, Carl Hagelin and Brian Boyle, but can they produce the type of depth offense the team needs down the stretch? Boyle’s numbers went down last season, will that be the case for the young fan-favorite Hagelin? Asham is probably the best pound-for-pound scrapper in hockey and has an excellent shot. Can he contribute some offense too? If the Rangers get added offense from their bottom two lines, they'll have an LA Kings kind of team that can skate with anyone and get offense from everyone on their bench. It'll be bedlam for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Wishful Thinking: Those thinking the Rangers will miss Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon, the players the team traded, along with a first round pick, to get Nash, won’t get their wish. Although the three are solid players and will help Columbus in different ways, the Rangers needed another dynamic sniper. With the acquisition of Nash, for the first time in years, the Rangers have one of the most explosive top lines in the sport today.
Prediction: As is the norm with most snipers traded to the Rangers, Rick Nash will under-produce in 2013, but not by much. 20 goals in 48 games is nothing to slouch about and with Gaborik and the ever-steady Ryan Callahan scoring clutch goals as well, the Rangers will once again lead the league in wins.