With most of the roster filled out, the New York Rangers have to certainly be pleased with how the team is rounding into shape.
With the first pick overall, the Rangers surprised no one when they selected Connor McDavid. However, then the waiting began for a full 60 picks before they picked again. With that next pick. the Blueshirts selected Mikael Sergachev, who will be a stalwart on the blueline for years to come.
The Rangers then went into cap conservation mode where they selected a number of higher upside young players including Nico Hischer, Nolan Patrick, Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek, Adam Boqvist, and Jonathan Drouin. "McJesus" must have surely been getting nervous as none of the players would be expected to be staples on a powerhouse top line.
However, the Rangers were then able to take a run on proven vets rounding out the top line with Chris Kreider and and Jakob Silvferberg, and nabbing rearguards Erik Johnson and Olli Maatta. Later, they nabbed their goaltender in Semyon Varlamov.
From there, the Rangers added a mix of veteran depth, longer-term projects, and organizational depth for the farm. Here is a a quick look at the possible lines (LW/C/RW):
Kreider / McDavid / Silvferberg
Drouin / Hischer / Zadina
Anisimov / Patrick / Zucker
Cogliano / Foligno / Hinstroza
There is an expectation that the right wing position will be a fluid situation in camp to see which of the three of Silvferberg, Zadina, and Zucker can find chemistry with McDavid. If the young second line proves to be too much of a defensive liability, Jason Zucker or even Andrew Cogliano or Marcus Foligno could add some veteran leadership.
Meanwhile the penalty kill will feature Cogliano and Foligno with McDavid hitting the ice if the Rangers need the threat of a short handed goal.
The defensive pairings are also expected to be heavily scrutinized in camp, but here is what they initially will look like:
Sergachev / E. Johnson
Hronek / Maatta
B. Dillon / A. Boqvist
Each pairing has offensive flair paired with a steadier veteran presence. The team's first power play unit (assuming two defensemen, which may not happen) would be Sergachev and Hronek, with Boqvist and Johnson being the second pair. The top PK unit would be Johnson and Dillon, with Sergachev and Maatta taking second pairing duties. Overall there is nice balance in this group, but figuring out chemistry will be key.
As mentioned Semyon Varlamov will take the bulk of the starts with Chris Dreidger expected to back up. Talented Connor Ingram is also in the system but he is expected to receive most of his starting duties in the AHL as he continues his development.
Overall GM Sean McAndrews is very excited about the balance in the squad. Landing two high-end talents early was critical, but the strategy of then going young and re-establishing a healthy cap number appears to have worked well.
There were still some higher-end veterans available when McAndrews decided to spend some money again. Nabbing Kreider, Silvferberg and Varlamov when the Rangers did was particularly lucky as the options after those three were getting quite sparse.
Thanks to all of the GM's for an enjoyable start to the league and especially to co-commissioners Dan and Thomas for keeping things on the rails and putting in such an amazing effort.
Happy drafting to everyone as we sift through the remaining "hidden gems".