Welcome to the NHL FanHouse 2008-09 season preview. While other sites are previewing "30 teams in 30 days," we decided to take advantage of the extra time off before the start of the season to bring you all 30 previews over the next three weeks. We're counting down in reverse order of finish from last season in each conference every weekday from now until October 3. Look for an Eastern Conference preview every morning and a Western Conference preview every afternoon. Click here to read them all.
Who's In: Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev, Dmitri Kalinin.
Who's Out: Martin Straka, Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan (could still return), Sean Avery, Fedor Tyutin.
What's Changed: Another year and it's still the same old Rangers -- spend, spend, spend. In February the team signed stud netminder Henrik Lundqvist to a six-year deal that came out to about $6.5 million per. During the off-season they nabbed UFAs Wade Redden and Markus Naslund for the low price of $11.5 million this season. Not that this is a bad tactic, they did pretty well this past season with their spending spree from the summer of 2007 (Gomez, Drury). But, in all serious, not a whole lot has changed in terms of the philosophy in New York. The faces, however, are a different story.
With Jaromir Jagr in Russia, Brendan Shanahan in limbo, and the departure of Martin Straka, the Rangers are going to be without three of their top five scorers from a year ago. The trio combined for 158 points last season, something the Rangers will dearly miss. The addition of Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev will help ease the stress, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the new faces, and the loss of some old faces, pans out.
Who's on the Hook: At this point it looks to be coach Tom Renney. This is Renney's fourth year behind the bench and with type of money the Rangers spend, more is expected than three early playoff exits. They have yet to make a run past the second round during his tenure, and if he is given more than four years if they come up short again it will be nothing short of amazing. Given the short fuse of NHL front offices and the expectations set for in the Rangers organization, he is set to take the fall.
Also on the short list of people to take the fall if this team doesn't succeed is GM Glen Sather. This will be Sather's fifth season in the front office and MSG and Renney is the second coach under his reign. It wouldn't be surprising if Sather is in hot water if the team underachieves this year.
Where They'll Finish: Out of all the Atlantic Division teams, the Rangers seem poised to take the biggest fall. They still have a solid roster and will certainly not be out of the playoff hunt, but the losses they took to their forward corps will sting. Whether or not they can overcome those losses will determine how far they go this year.