The New York Rangers go into next season with a lot of anticipation after reaching the Eastern Conference Final.
Despite losing all of their unrestricted Free Agents, the team signed Vincent Trochek as an upgrade to their second midfield position. One potential story that could develop at the start of next season would be his chemistry with Artemi Panarin, at the moment, this is not a major concern.
Here’s an updated look at some of the key storylines surrounding the team as we approach the 2022-23 campaign.
Captain Jacob Troup
After four seasons, the New York Rangers finally named their 28th captain in franchise history.
Jacob Troupa, 28, will wear c On his chest for the next season. The captain was last awarded to Ryan McDonagh in 2018, which was left vacant after his trade to Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I will not change who I am,” said Trouba. “The reason all this happened is because I was myself and true to myself. I intend to be the same person.”
Now that the Rangers have a captain, the question arises whether there will be any changes with the drivetrain. Currently, they are Mika Zibanijad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Banarin, and Barclay Goudreau.
If the team retains the four as alternate captains, they can designate two for the home games and two for the road competitions. This became popularized by the Rangers in their 1994 Stanley Cup winning season.
Will Jimmy Visey be in sixth place?
According to Larry Brooks, in his latest column titled Slap Shots, he mentioned that the Rangers and Jimmy Vesey might come to terms soon.
Vesey, 29, scored 8 goals and 15 points in 68 games for the New Jersey Devils last season.
Vesey is coming off a one-year deal with the Devils for $800,000 and is expected to sign for the league for a minimum of $750,000. If the Rangers complete the signing, he will be used as a potential winger in the fourth line. His hat can be completely buried in the AHL with the Wolf Pack.
If Vesey is signed, he would likely pose a major threat to Dryden Hunt’s place in the squad as the 13th striker. Both play a similar style as Vesey has more experience and ability to score.
Alexis Lavrinier on the right wing
Alexis Lafrenière has set a big goal for next season with the New York Rangers – to play in the top six.
The 20-year-old admitted that with Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin both occupying the top two spots on the left wing, it wouldn’t be easy. His best chance is to move to the right wing, which is something he’s open to doing.
“I want to play in the top six at the end, that’s my goal,” Lavrinier said on the day of the split. “I want to watch them and learn from them but hopefully next year I can play in the top six.”
There are still plenty of roster changes to make when the training camp opens in September, but it’s very likely that Lafrenière will take a long look at the upper right wing. Worst case scenario, Artemi Panarin could hit the top line and move Chris Kreider to the right wing to allow Laffy to play his normal second line position with Trocheck.
Could Vitaly Kravtsov finally stay with the Rangers?
Vitaly Kravtsov is in New York to advance his training in preparation for camp. After a few turbulent years, is he ready to make his mark with the Rangers?
“I don’t think we’ve ever been shaken by our position, he’s a universal talent. He does a lot of things on the ice that a lot of people can’t do,” Chris Drury said. “Like everyone else, a play dictates where you end up. But we’re certainly glad he’s back in the mix.”
The Rangers reached an agreement with Vitaly Kravtsov in a one-year deal worth $875,000 on June 13. It was important for Kravetsov and his agent to get a one-way agreement to ensure a better chance of playing in the NHL. He will need to pass concessions in order to be dispatched next season.
Kravtsov, 22, had a tough campaign in the KHL. In 19 regular season competitions, he scored 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points. During the playoffs, he added 7 goals and total 10 points in 15 matches.
Braden Schneider Partner
The Rangers were able to offload Patrick Nemeth and his remaining two years with $2.5 million to the Arizona Coyotes at the cost of a second-round selection. Now the team will be looking for a left-back man to partner with Braden Schneider.
Zach Jones has been patiently waiting for his time to be a regular in the New York Rangers defense.
Jones, 21, is in the final year of his entry-level deal which comes with a low ceiling of $925,000. He has shown that he has the potential to play in the NHL using his high hockey IQ to make up for his size at 5-11, 185 pounds.
“We know what a gonzi is,” said Gerard Gallant. “He drives the disc – he skates. He’s not a big guy but he defends hard.”
Another possible option is Matthew Robertson.
The 21-year-old left-handed defender was selected by the Blueshirts in the second round of the 2019 draft. At 6-4 and 201 pounds, he already has the volume to play in the NHL but has taken a little longer to develop than some of the other prospects on the Blue Line.
“My goal next year is to make Rangers,” Robertson stated. “It’s a big season for me and I learned a lot last year at Hartford. With that experience, and knowing a little more about what to expect in camp, the urgency definitely rises.”
There is also an outside chance that Nils Lundqvist, who usually plays on the right side, will make a move to the left.
Lundkvist may be on the small side at 5-11 and 187 pounds, but he makes an excellent pass along with an elite shot. The previous first-round pick had earned 4 points in 25 games before being sent to the Wolf Pack last season.