During the offseason in the National Hockey League, many teams made some heavy-hitting offseason moves. One of those teams is the New York Rangers. The Rangers have been struggling to succeed ever since their Stanley Cup loss to the Kings in 2014. But now the Rangers had a successful offseason and hope to get back into playoff contention as soon as possible.
The first big move they made was re-signing defensive prospect, Adam Fox. Fox was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes earlier last year and, in exchange, the Rangers gave up their 2nd round draft pick and conditional 3rd round pick in 2020. Fox skated in 33 games with Harvard and had 9 goals and 39 assists, for 48 points. In his career, he has 116 points in 97 games. Fox is expected to bring energy to the team and doesn’t often take penalties, which has been a minor issue for the Rangers last season. The expectation is that Fox will be able to play in the NHL this season instead of going down to the AHL.
Along with Fox, the Rangers re-signed another defenseman who has more experience in the NHL, Jacob Trouba, who signed a seven-year 56 million dollar deal on June 17. In a trade with the Winnipeg Jets to acquire Trouba, the Rangers gave away defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 Draft. Trouba played in all 82 games last season for Winnipeg, registering eight goals and 42 assists along with 58 penalty minutes. Trouba should be a nice acquisition for the young Rangers team and should pair well with Brady Skjei on the top defensive line.
Next, came the 2019 NHL Draft, the Rangers got very lucky and were able to select from the Number Two position in the Draft. The top 2 players who were featured for the draft were Center Jack Hughes and Winger Kaapo Kakko. The New Jersey Devils selected Hughes with the first overall pick, leaving the Rangers to draft and sign Kakko. Kakko plays Left Wing and has the potential to produce some scoring and skilled passing as well. As part of Liiga, the hockey league in Finland, he registered 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games. Kappo is a fast and smart hockey player and hopes to bring the Rangers a bright future.
Finally, and possibly the biggest signee for the Rangers was signing top free agent Artemi Panarin. The undrafted Panarin has 4 seasons of NHL experience and won the Calder Trophy with the Chicago Blackhawks as the NHL’s top rookie. But, last season was his best season in the NHL so far registering 28 goals and 59 assists. The contract is worth a massive seven-year contract worth 11.426 million, passing Patrick Kane as the highest-paid winger in the league. Panarin is likely going to be a force to be reckoned with for the Rangers.
This version of the New York Rangers is a huge improvement from last year and their rebuilding is almost complete, if not complete now. But the question remains: will they be able to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2015-16 in a stacked up Metropolitan division? Well, the team is fully capable of competing. It comes down to whether or not they will be able to perform to the expectations put in front of them.